Samoa fightback stuns Fiji in Paris 7s final
PARIS (AP) Samoa made a stunning comeback to beat Fiji 29-26 in the Paris Sevens final on Sunday and win its first sevens rugby world series leg in nearly four years.
Samoa was down 21-0 then 26-7 at halftime, but found the confidence to stop the world series leader from scoring and turn the tables.
After Fiji sent in veterans Samisoni Viriviri and Amenoni Nasilasila to start the second half, Samoa's Tila Mealoi suddenly touched down twice in three minutes, but couldn't convert them. Samoa was nine behind with four minutes to go.
Then Siaosi Asofolau charged over for a converted try to cut the gap to two and, in the dying seconds, captain Faalemiga Selesele scored the winning try.
Only the day before, Fiji demolished Samoa 42-5 in pool play.
''At halftime you would think we were dead and buried wouldn't you?'' Samoa coach Damian McGrath said. ''It's a huge surprise, especially after Fiji were so strong against us yesterday. We wanted to get some pride back, and we did that. Self-belief is a huge thing, and they believed in themselves.''
Fiji could be consoled in virtually retaining the series title. It has a 14-point lead over second-place South Africa, and can win its second straight series and third overall by reaching the quarterfinals in the last leg in London next weekend. Fiji has yet to miss the quarterfinals.
Samoa's win capped a day of upsets. South Africa and New Zealand were defeated in the quarterfinals by Samoa and Argentina respectively.
France, buoyed by big home crowd support at Stade Jean-Bouin, reached the semifinals for the first time this season, and bowed to Fiji. France finished third.
South Africa was fifth after winning the plate, while New Zealand, third in the standings, dropped 21 points behind Fiji and out of contention for a 13th series title.