South Africa rallies to beat Fiji in final, Canada ties for 11th at Singapore 7s
Canada's Harry Jones (left) and Connor Braid react after losing to Australia in the Challenge Trophy final at the World Rugby Sevens Series action in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday March 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ben Nelms
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, April 14, 2019 11:05AM EDT
SINGAPORE -- South Africa, rallying from a 19-point deficit, won for the second time in three tournaments while Canada finished tied for 11th on Sunday at the Singapore Rugby Sevens.
The Canadian men downed Japan 33-14 in the consolation Challenge Trophy quarterfinals before falling 19-12 to France. Canada, which won the tournament in 2017, went 2-3-0 on the weekend.
Selvyn Davids kicked a penalty with seconds left on the clock to cap an astonishing rally by South Africa in a 20-19 win over Fiji in the Cup final. South Africa trailed 19-0 after a first half that was completely dominated by Fiji but turned the match around after halftime, matching Fiji's three tries and snatching the win with the last-gasp kick.
South Africa also won in Vancouver in March. Fiji hoisted the Cup last weekend in Hong Kong.
The Blitzboks stopped Fiji from becoming the first team to win the Singapore title in consecutive seasons. They beat Fiji for the first time in their last four finals meetings and shook up the overall World Series standings.
The U.S., which lost 28-7 to England in the third-place playoff, retains first place after eight events on the 10-stop HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series but is only three points ahead of Fiji. New Zealand is third ahead of South Africa and England.
The top four teams at the end of the season qualify automatically for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Canada remains 12th.
Connor Braid, Phil Berna, Justin Douglas, Jake Thiel and Nathan Hirayama scored tries for Canada in the win over Japan. Hirayama kicked four conversions.
The Canadians led France 12-7 at the half on tries by Hirayama and Braid, who also received a yellow card six minutes in. But the French pulled ahead on second-half tries by Remi Siega and Tavite Veredamu.
A South African victory seemed impossible Sunday after a first half in which Fiji ran riot, exploiting handling errors and poor tackling to score three brilliant tries.
Aminiasi Tuimaba scored after two minutes, slipping a tackle and finishing a superb solo break for his 17th try in his last 18 matches.
Napolioni Balaca spun through another weak tackle to score in the fifth minute and Vilimoni Botitu capped an outstanding half for Fiji with a try from a five-meter scrum just before the break.
South Africa coach Neil Powell stirred up his young players during the halftime interval and they were a different team in the second half, eliminating errors and playing with much more focus.
Kurt-Lee Arendse showed his pace to score after three minutes and Angelo Davids caught a cross-filed kick pass from Justin Geduld to score in the fourth minute, making the score 19-10.
Fiji lost a man to a yellow card for a tackle after the try had been scored in a major boost to South Africa's cause. Ryan Oostuizen's took advantage with a try in the sixth minute that made the score 19-17.
Angelo Davids was tackled into touch in the corner with seconds left on the clock and it seemed that Fiji might hang on. But a penalty for offside gave South Africa a last chance and Selvyn Davids slotted home the winning penalty.
"We basically said to each other at halftime that we're still in it if we can get the first points on the board in the second half," Powell said. "These youngsters hang onto every single word that you tell them and well done to them, they're very gutsy and showed it out there in the second half."