Fiji’s flag is flying high again as the country’s men’s rugby 7s team successfully defended its gold medal after a thrilling final against old rugby rivals New Zealand last night. The nail biting encounter was a go right from the first whistle.
Fiji was able to strike quickly as lanky forward Meli Derenalagi stretched over in the right hand corner after catching an off-load from hooker Iosefo Masi.
The see-saw battle continued as both sides contested hard in the rucks and defended like their lives depended on it. Fiji scored their second try after rookie Sireli Maqala regathered an askew ball that was bouncing away from Andrew Newstubb in their own goal line.
However the men in black came back strongly and returned the favour to score a try of their own in the corner when captain Scott Curry galloped his way over Fiji’s try line. That try brought some confidence back to New Zealand.
Jiuta Wainiqolo was able to increase Fiji’s lead a little further when he sprinted inches away from the sideline to run in Fiji’s third try. Wainiqolo has had a great Olympics tournament and is proving to be a game winner for Fiji, especially during crunch time.
But just before half-time, seasoned All Blacks rover Sione Molia showed determination and teared through Fiji’s defensive line to bring the scores closer. The kick was successful and Fiji led 19 points to 12 at half-time.
It was business as usual at the start of the second half when both teams furiously battled for possession to and try to regain the momentum from the first spell. Big tackles played a crucial role in the second half; as they say “defence wins games” and Fiji’s hitman Asaeli Tuivuaka was again destructive in that department as he put on a few to the New Zealanders.
Tuivuaka’s defence is usually his favoured contribution for his team. However as the clock wound down and the Fijians became more comfortable and were able to find their rhythm things, passes began to connect and gaps appeared in New Zealand’s already frail defence line. Fiji was able to score again through their demolition man Tuivuaka.
Fiji now led 24 –12 after another successful conversion by Waisea Nacuqu.
Now Fiji was able to mount attack after attack. In the end, the defence line fell to consistent pressure as they gave away too many penalties in the rucks and breakdown areas.
The last point was scored by Waisea Nacuqu, as he converted a penalty to bring the final score to 27 points to 12.
So, mission was accomplished by coach Gareth Baber and his warriors of Oceania. The historic win also makes Captain Jerry Tuwai to be the first ever Fijian to win two Olympic gold medals for his country, a massive achievement of its own.
Echoes of loud singing filled the terraces of the national stadium in Tokyo as the Fijian men celebrated another momentous occasion in the usual manner by singing “Na draki qo. Jiova ga”. The hymn basically means that in whatever difficult circumstance and situations we may face in our lives, we should always trust God. He will always provide a way for us.