Samoa defied all odds to win the Paris Sevens, scoring 24 unanswered points in the second half to give this determined young Samoan team their first victory of the season. It was a fairy tale and it’s always is in the City of Love. This was Samoa’s first cup win since Dubai 2012.
Credit to Samoa, they didn’t panic as the Fijians raced away with three converted tries. They stuck to their game plan, kept their cool and delivered when it mattered and in doing so have brought back the high flying Fijians back to earth with the reality that you are not invincible.
Fiji have lost two back-to-back finals and Coach Ben Ryan will have plenty to work on before Twickenham as Samoa will build on this heading into London and Monaco in June as they still have to book a spot to Rio.
Hosts France claim third spot, South Africa keep their chances alive, Scotland wins Bowl as the Portuguese claim the Shield final. Here is how Finals day ended:
Paris Sevens: THE LOWDOWN
Samoa Wins Paris Sevens
Samoa started well but Fiji struck first through Isake Katonibau after a beautiful offload from Glasgow Warrior Leone Nakarawa and the Warrior followed it up with one of his own two minutes later. Jerry Tuwai finished up with a solo effort. Selesele pounced on a 50-50 tap back from Nakarawa to put Belgium Tuatagaloa through, converted for a 21-7 lead to Fiji but from the restart Jasa Veremalua ran across the field to set up Tuwai for his second for 26-7 lead at the breather.
From the restart good pressure from Samoa resulted in Tila Mealoi crossing over 26-12 lead to Fiji but the game was halted as some ‘Gladiators’ ran onto the ground, all in the festive mood at the Stade Jean Bouin. Straight after that fiasco, the Samoans claimed another try with Mealoi grabbing his second. That break helped Samoa as they grabbed their third through Siaosi Asofolau, converted 26-24 Fiji lead. With a minute to go Selesele scored in the corner to give the Samoans the victory.
As for the Battle of the English coaches, bragging rights goes to Damian McGrath again. He mapped out a game plan that kept Samoa in the game but the heart and determination showed by his players won them the title. They kept the ball away from Fiji and fought at the breakdown well to deny Fiji possession, all the ingredients you need to take the Fijians out of their game and it worked well in the end.
Les Bleus take Third spot at home
Virimi Vakatawa again inspired his French team to beat Argentina to claim third spot, the French crossed the line through Julien Candelon and Mazoe with Vakatawa grabbing a brace for a 26-17 victory.
The French hearts were broken by Fiji in their Cup semi-final 22-5 while the Pumas were edged by a late Belgium Tuatagaloa try for a narrow victory to Samoa. The South Americans have been excellent in the past two tournaments and if they get the players they really want, then Rio will be where they will unleash it all.
The French have taken their game up another notch and with Virimi Vakatawa and Terry Bouhraoua at their peak more teams will fall to them, never underestimate the French flair and their trip across the canal will be a more entertaining one to watch as the season comes to it’s end.
French captain Terry Bouhraoua, ”It’s been a wonderful weekend and it’s good for the fans that we finish with a win, Virimi is an incredible player and it’s good to play with him.” speaking to worldrugby.org
South Africa takes the Plate
It wasn’t what they set out to win this weekend but it was a booster as they head to the series finale. After their shock loss to Samoa they set-aside the Kiwis in the Plate semis 29-19 and overcame the Australians 17-7 to walk away with the Plate.
The Blitzboks scored through Dylan Sage, Kyle Brown and Rosko Specman while the Aussies lone try was scored by Boyd Killingworth for a 17-7 final scoreline. The Aussies defeated the Singapore Sevens champs Kenya 26-7 after they were bundled out in the quarters by both Fiji and France respectively.
The Kiwis lost to Argentina in the quarters as the Pumas shred them in the breakdown and their determination won them that game and the Kiwis need their senior players back next week but injuries will give this new breed of players another chance to push for a Olympic spot but the Ioane brothers have booked theirs.
Scotland wins Anglo-Scottish duel to claim Bowl Final
Anglo-Scottish passion ran high as both English and Scottish players had to be separated in many occasion by referee Alex Ruiz as they continued to pull and shove each other in a game completely dominated by the Scots, who have been really impressive this weekend and will be a force to be reckoned with next week in London.
Scotland scored four tries to the English two for a final scoreline of 28-10, both teams got there after beating Russia and the disappointing Americans in the Plate semis, Russia have improved their chances in staying with the elite next season while the Americans don’t look like a team that can defend their title in London.
The Scots have three players in the Great Britain squad to Rio with international player Mark Bennett, the Scots produced some of the finest rugby that the Bravehearts are renowned and capable off. Caluum McRae’s men will build from this.
Scott Wight, Scotland captain,”We had a great game today. We set the target of winning the Bowl, and the boys have really stepped up a plate, it is really, really positive to finish like this going into Twickenham.” speaking to worldrugby.org
England without it’s senior players were lost but the youngsters who came in for them have done enough to tell the world that next season the English will be back, especially the young Harry Glover.
Portugal Wins Shield Final
Duarte Moreira crossed over for Los Lobos in extra-time to win the shield after good build up work from Nuno Guedes and the offload from Aderito Estevez was perfect to hand the Europeans their victory over the Welsh Scarlets. The game went to extra-time after both teams were locked 19-all at full time.
Wales have really dropped in this latter part of the series and will have plenty to work on in the off-season to be more competitive next season while the Portuguese will be hoping for a miracle cup quarter final in series finale in Twickenham to regain their core status.
DHL Player Of The Final
Faalemiga Selesele (SAM) He held it together for his boys and led by example, all season long too. Well deserved.
DHL Player Of The Tournament
Virimi Vakatawa (FRA) Who could argue with this, when can turn a fortune for any team single-handedly. Work rate second to none in all facets of play.
Paris Sevens Dream Team
Faalemiga Selesele (SAM), Jasa Veremalua (Fiji), Axel Muller (ARG), Terry Bouhraoua (FRA), Seabelo Senatla (RSA). Josua Tuisova (Fiji), Virimi Vakatawa (FRA).
World Sevens Series Table
Fiji – 166 points
South Africa – 152
New Zealand – 145
Australia – 127
Argentina – 107
USA – 100
Kenya – 95
Samoa – 84
England – 82
France – 75
Scotland – 65
Wales – 46
Canada – 35
Russia – 26
Japan – 21
Portugal – 20
With the dust settled all teams will cross over to Twickenham for the season finale, all is at stake, can this teams stop Fiji early in pool play, can the Blitzboks make a comeback and can the Portuguese retain their core status? All this will be answered in London in a weeks time.
Follow all THE LOWDOWN from the London Sevens here on Last Word On Sports.