New Zealand down Fiji in World Sevens Series final


GEORGE (South Africa): New Zealand turned avengers on Saturday with a 33-19 victory over Fiji in the final of the second leg of the World Sevens Series.  

The resurgent Pacific islanders stunned the mighty men in black last weekend with a 22-12 win in the semi-finals of the Dubai Sevens, the opening tournament of the seven-leg 2004-2005 season.  

But after a knock on robbed Fiji of an early chance to take the lead in the south-west South African town, sevens specialists New Zealand gave a lesson in clinical finishing to establish a 19-5 lead by half-time.  

Scorching heat, high humidity and tiredness from a more difficult path to the decider took its toll on the Fijians and the game ceased to be a contest three minutes into the second half.  

Trapped near the touchline, Lifeimi Mafi kicked the ball across the lush Outeniqua Park field and man-of-the-tournament Roy Kinikinilau fed Sosene Anesi, who dived over for a try which Orene Ai'i converted.  

Man mountain Josh Blackie claimed his second try after a typical charge to give New Zealand a 33-5 lead before a late Fiji rally reaped tries for Neumi Nanuku and Marika Vakacegu.  

New Zealand were handicapped numerically in the closing stages by the loss of captain Liam Messam to the 'sin bin' - one of many players punished by the referees, who adopted a 'zero tolerance' approach over the two days.  

Anesi and Blackie scored two tries each and Hayden Reid one for the men in black, who suffered a heavy loss to England in the final of the George leg of the championship last year. Ai'i completed the tally with four conversions.  

Vakacegu crossed twice and Nanuku once and two of the tries were converted by Fiji, who needed sudden-death extra time to see off south seas rivals Samoa in the quarter-finals and upset Dubai champions England to reach the final. – AFP  

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