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- Sponsored : Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC)
The Olympic champions claim the Oceania Rugby Sevens titles in Fiji, while Tonga's men and Papua New Guinea's women secure a place on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019.
Fiji's men needed extra-time to beat New Zealand 17-12 to retain their Oceania Rugby Sevens title in Suva on Saturday, while Australia edged New Zealand 14-10 to reclaim the women's crown they had surrendered to their rivals in 2017.
New Zealand had the chance to snatch victory in normal time but Andrew Knewstubb was unable to convert Dylan Collier's try on the final hooter and instead Waisea Nacuqu's extra-time try saw Olympic champions Fiji break the deadlock against Rugby World Cup Sevens champions New Zealand to the delight of the home crowd.
Samoa, meanwhile, Samoa caused an upset by beating Australia 14-12 to claim the bronze medal at ANZ Stadium.
The regional tournament is important preparation for all four teams as they count down to the start of the men's HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019 in Dubai on 30 November-1 December.
Australia, New Zealand and Fiji will also be in Dubai for round two of the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, although the Australian and New Zealand squads there will bear little resemblance to those that met in the Oceania Rugby Sevens final after both elected to send development squads to Fiji.
Australia captain Page McGregor scored one of their two tries that gave the Olympic champions a 14-0 lead in the title decider. New Zealand did cross twice themselves but the missed conversions ensured that McGregor got her hands on the trophy, ending a run of four straight losses at the hands of the Black Ferns Sevens.
“It’s difficult to single out individual performances in such a strong team effort, but Cassie Staples, Page McGregor, Hagiga Mosby and Lily Dick were exceptional today,” said Australia assistant coach James Stannard.
“Importantly, today’s result shows that our pathway is strong in producing the next generation of Aussie Sevens players and every player across the squad will take a lot from this experience moving forward.”
While Fiji and Australia had cause to celebrate as champions, there was also positive news for Papua New Guinea's women and Tonga's men too.
Papua New Guinea's women, coached for the first time by Paul Tietjens, had by virtue of reaching the semi-finals confirmed their place as the invitational team at the HSBC Sydney Sevens on 1-3 February as the best ranked team after the world series core sides Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.
They would finish fourth, after losing to New Zealand and Fiji on Saturday, but can now also look forward to playing in the series qualifier in Hong Kong in April.
Tonga were best of the rest in the men's competition, beating the Cook Islands 29-12 to finish fifth behind the four core teams and book their ticket to the Hamilton and Sydney rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019. There was some consolation for the Cook Islands as they will join Tonga as Oceania's representatives in the Hong Kong qualifier for the 2020 series.
New Caledonia's women also celebrated a victory in the final match of their first Oceania Rugby event, beating Nauru – playing in their first ever international tournament – 21-7 in the seventh place play-off.
The eight women's team captains at the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship 2018 in Suva, Fiji, were earlier presented with garlands in a special ceremony reflecting the commitment by Oceania Rugby for an #EqualPlayingField for women and men at the Oceania Sevens and other rugby competitions and decision-making forums.
Men's final rankings
2. New Zealand
6. Cook Islands
7. Papua New Guinea
8. New Caledonia
9. Solomon Islands
Women's final rankings
2. New Zealand
4. Papua New Guinea
6. Cook Islands
7. New Caledonia
SOURCE: WORLD RUGBY/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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