Published: Sunday October 14, 2012 MYT 8:50:00 PM
Fiji thump New Zealand to retain Gold Coast title
GOLD COAST (Australia): Fiji retained their Gold Coast Sevens rugby crown with a breathtaking 32-14 win over New Zealand in the opening leg of the IRB Sevens World Series on Sunday.
The Fijians had seven debutants in their squad but were far too strong for New Zealand, who also fielded a young side but were made to look second rate for much of the final.
"I'm so proud of the boys, they did so well this afternoon," Fiji captain Levani Botia said.
'I know that we have seven new players but I trusted the boys and I knew that they could come here and make the tackles."
Lightning quick outside back Ratu Alipate Raitini scored a hat-trick, while Joji Raqamate grabbed a double for the defending champions.
Fiji had earlier stunned tournament favourites South Africa 21-10 in the semi-finals and they were out of the blocks early in the decider, drawing first blood when Raitini crossed in the corner two minutes from the kick-off.
The All Blacks responded immediately when Tim Mickleson took advantage of a perfect bounce from a kick ahead and raced 50 metres to score out wide, with Tomasi Cama's conversion giving New Zealand a 7-5 lead.
But two quick tries to Raitini and Botia put the defending champions out to a thoroughly deserved 17-7 lead at the break. They jumped out to 22-7 when Raitini scored his third, a brilliant effort that began deep in his own 22.
The romp continued almost from the restart when Raqamate kicked ahead and regathered over the line as the Fijians continued to delight the crowd with the audacity of their attacking play.
New Zealand tried to come back and pressed hard when Apisalome Waqatabu was off the field with a yellow card, but the Fijians held firm.
Kylem O'Donnell crossed to get the Kiwis closer, only for Ilai Tinai and Raqamate to score five pointers and underline the Fijians' dominance.
South Africa thumped surprise packets Kenya 41-5 in the third place play-off, while Argentina overcame France 14-7 in the plate final.
Spain beat England for the first time 19-14 to win the bowl final and Scotland won the shield with a 40-5 win over the US. - AFP