For the third-straight Games, Fiji matched up against Samoa in the gold-medal match, but this time they made light work of the Samoans in a dominant 33-7 victory on Friday at BSP Stadium.
“It’s been a decade for Fiji to actually win the gold medal, so it’s really a massive honor for us to win gold today,” Fiji captain Isake Katonibau said.
The overwhelming pre-tournament favourites, Fiji made a game played in driving rain look more like a walk in the park, getting out to an early lead that would prove insurmountable.
Fiji dominated the first half of the game, scoring four tries to bring the halftime score to 26-0 in their favor.
“The boys did pretty good, they played some very good games in the last two days and today,” Samoa coach Fatalii Moke said. “We were very unfortunate with the game with Fiji – these Fiji boys attacked us in the early minutes of the game and scored some points.”
Kitione Dawai opened the scoring for Fiji when he toed ahead his chip and chase and dived on it over the line.
Moments later Dawai scored again, latching onto a looping pass and escaping the clutches of the defence to go over to the left of the posts.
With three minutes left in the first half Fiji looked like they had the gold medal in their grasp already when after a lovely series of typical flashy Fijian passes, they were over in the corner and 19 points ahead.
At that point the game was as good as over.
The Samoans were rewarded for their perseverance, a try by Brando Vaaulu getting them on the scoreboard and bringing the final score to 33-7.
“It’s a very good opportunity to play with the top team in the IRB,” Moke said. “It’s a very good lesson for the boys to taste how impressive the Fijian boys are.”
Katonibau was impressed by the fans who sat in the rain all afternoon to support the teams at BSP Stadium.
“These are some of the uncontrollables, we can’t control the weather,” Katonibau said. “But today was a fantastic day for 7s, a display of good skills by other teams – a good atmosphere.”
In the men’s bronze medal game Tonga beat Papua New Guinea to secure third.
“We’re just elated that we won, it’s a really big achievement for us,” Will Hafu (TGA) said. “To beat the boys at home is quite an achievement, because they played a really good tournament.”
Tonga got off to the better start, scoring two tries in the first half to go into the break at 12-0.
PNG attacked immediately after the break and almost scored despite being a player down, but lost the ball near the line and saw Tonga’s Meiohihifo Kuli head off in the other direction to score the try that would ultimately seal it.
PNG did manage to get two tries before the end of the match from Buttler Morris and Jordan Tkatchenko, but it was not to be for the home side as Tonga closed out a 19-12 victory.
“The boys were a bit tired after [the semifinal game] against Fiji,” Morris said. “We thought we were going to beat Tonga, but they’re a strong side, they train well and play well. They beat us with a good game.”
In the semifinals earlier in the day, PNG lost a physical 24-5 contest against Fiji and Samoa handed Tonga a 35-5 loss.
“They gave us a good challenge because they were playing in front of their home crowd,” Katonibau said of his team’s semifinal against PNG. “They’re a pretty decent side, so I wish them luck as well as the other teams that participated today in qualifying for the Rio Olympics.”
Guam defeated Nauru 31-0 in the match to decide ninth place, Tahiti held on for a 21-10 victory against Vanuatu for seventh place and New Caledonia blanked Solomon Islands 24-0 for fifth place.
By J Fitzpatrick, W Lovai, D Kerwin and Dr P Garpet, Games News Service