Fiji thrilled their wonderfully passionate support by hammering all before them to win their second successive Hamilton Sevens title on Sunday.
The flying Fijians dazzled their outstanding fans, trouncing the United States 38-0 in the final of the men’s event, and everyone in attendance at a sold out FMG Stadium Waikato revelled in witnessing the Olympic champions notch an incredible 100 points on finals day.
Fiji conceded just twice while thumping Canada, South Africa and USA, and six super tries in the decider had the drums beating long into the night.
USA earlier sent New Zealand tumbling out in the semi-finals. The hosts were sloppy in losing 17-7 but the Americans are fast becoming a force on the World Sevens Series after reaching their third successive final.
However, USA were knocked off top spot in the standings and replaced by a rampant Fiji side, who tore them to shreds with an exhilarating performance in the decider.
Jerry Tuwai and Alosio Naduva scored doubles and further tries to Waisea Nacuqu and Aminiasi Tuimaba delighted the phenomenal Fijian crowd, who created a fantastic atmosphere as Hamilton’s second year of hosting sevens proved to be another resounding success.
It was a disappointing weekend for New Zealand, though, who rolled Australia 24-17 in the quarter-finals, but mistakes and poor discipline were very costly as USA knocked them out.
Vilimoni Koroi was sinbinned for a spear tackle with 4mins 44sec remaining and New Zealand, a man down for two minutes, lost the lead when Steve Tomasin touched down before speedster Carlin Isles clinched victory for USA.
Fiji, who smashed South Africa 29-7 to reach the final, knocked New Zealand out of the semi-finals in Hamilton last year, so missing the decider by one game again was tough to take.
Instead, New Zealand finished the weekend third after walloping South Africa 29-7 in the bronze medal match, leaving the hosts to wonder what might have been, and coach Clark Laidlaw said their early exit was “bloody frustrating”.
“A lot of work has gone into the last few weeks and to miss out on playing a final at home is frustrating and disappointing.
“The way we played wasn’t quite what we were hoping for with the way we prepared and that’s on me.
“We certainly didn’t play like we did in other games and I need to have a look at that first before we start looking at the players.”
USA skipper Madison Hughes opened the scoring as the vibrant, colourful stands were packed and awash with fancy dress and Fijian sky blue after their earlier semi-final success
Regan Ware’s intercept try snatched New Zealand the lead by half-time but Koroi’s yellow card gave USA extra space to exploit.
The Americans never looked back after Tomasin dived over, stunning the capacity crowd, who were anticipating a dream final between old foes Fiji and New Zealand.
USA, who would ultimately finish as runners-up again after two second-place finishes in Dubai and Cape Town, progressed to the last four after holding off Scotland 19-14.
New Zealand, who finished day one unbeaten with routine wins against Japan (52-0), Canada (49-10) and Spain (24-0), were too good for Australia in the quarter-finals despite their late rally and a final with Fiji beckoned, but USA spoiled the party.
Fiji started day two with a classy 33-7 win against Canada in the first quarter-final, which delighted the loyal and loud scores of Fijians who once again kicked off an electric atmosphere after turning out in force on Saturday.
South Africa advanced to the semi-finals after seeing off Sir Gordon Tietjens’ Samoa 28-17 but they were no match for the formidable Fijians, whose celebrations lit up another memorable night in Hamilton.
AT A GLANCE:
Finals day of Hamilton Sevens
Men’s cup quarter-finals: Fiji 33-7 Canada, South Africa 28-17 Samoa, New Zealand 24-17 Australia, USA 19-14 Scotland.
Semi-finals: Fiji 29-7 South Africa, New Zealand 7-17 USA.
Trophy final: Kenya 7-36 England.
Fifth place play-off: Samoa 19-24 Scotland.
Bronze medal match: South Africa 7-29 New Zealand.
Final: Fiji 38-0 USA