Australia dominates Fiji to win Hong Kong 7s

Australia clinched a thrilling final 20-17 to claim the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens crown and bring to an end Fiji’s dominance that had seen them take the last five titles in Hong Kong.

A pulsating end-to-end final played in an electrifying atmosphere was settled in the final minute when Nathan Lawson scored in the corner to cue wild celebrations from the Australia contingent.

It had been 1,308 days since the last final was played in Hong Kong back in 2019, and the highly anticipated comeback edition certainly made up for lost time with a classic encounter between Fiji and Australia.

Double Olympic champions Fiji led through tries from Josua Vakurinabili and a pair from Waisea Nacuqu, but Australia hit back through Henry Hutchison, twice, and Tim Clements before Lawson sealed the comeback victory to continue the fantastic form which saw them clinch the 2022 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title

Fiji were aiming to continue their love affair with Hong Kong with a record breaking sixth straight title but it was not to be for the Pacific Islanders.

Australia captain Nick Malouf said: “After having done so well last year, to come out here and back it up straightaway and win Hong Kong for the first time since 1988, incredible. I think we’re cutting a few years off our coach’s life leaving it so late!

“We knew coming into this weekend that we’ve just got to keep grinding and doing what we’ve been doing really well, working hard for each other and we know they’re going to come for us now so we have got to keep getting better.

“There’s not much between the teams. This is the Olympic qualifying year, so everyone’s going to be coming in red hot and it’s going to make for great viewing and tough games on the pitch.”

Fiji coach Ben Gollings said: “At the end of the day, we made a final and we’ve been consistent. It’s bitterly disappointing that we lost. Ultimately 30 seconds of rugby was the difference in the end but credit to the boys was a tough year and they stuck at it and like I said the consistency and being in another final is fantastic.

Hong Kong was the first of 11 rounds on the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023, which promises to be the most competitive and exciting Series to date with more at stake than ever before as the top four ranked men’s and women’s teams will earn Olympic qualification for Paris 2024.

The Series’ next stop is Dubai where the women’s Series will commence, as part of a combined event with the men on 2-3 December 2022, before both men’s and women’s teams move on to Cape Town on 9-11 December.