Leroy Carter beat the dead-ball line and two defenders in a high-speed chase as New Zealand raced to a big early lead in the first half before Fiji hit back from 90 metres out.
Cody Vai had opened the scoring with just 30 seconds on the clock as the All Blacks Sevens opened with a statement of intent, with co-captain Sione Molia doubling their try tally six minutes later, before Carter struck to take the score to 19-0.
Vuiviwa Naduvalu finished off a length-of-the-pitch riposte 60 seconds later to get Fiji on the board, but Ngarohi McGarvey-Black extended the All Blacks Sevens’ lead again to 24-7 before a breathless opening period ended.
Joseva Talacolo got Fiji’s second early in the second half – and a consolation third on the final whistle as New Zealand claimed their first Hong Kong title since 2014.
Bronze final: France third after thriller
The competition had already exploded into life, to the delight of a large crowd at Hong Kong Stadium. Great Britain’s men were unable to repeat the medal-winning heroics of the women’s team, as they lost an enthralling encounter against France 19-17, Stephen Parez with the decisive score at the conclusion of an end-to-end encounter.
“It feels really good,” Jonathan Laugel said afterwards. “We’ve had some difficult games, all of them were really tough, but we showed consistency. I’m really proud of the guys, even though I would have preferred to play the next [match] against Fiji.”
Semi-finals: Fiji survive extra-time drama
Earlier, New Zealand made it eight straight wins against France, but had to work hard for the 12-7 victory that saw them through to their first Hong Kong final since 2016.
Earlier, the four-try All Blacks Sevens beat Argentina 24-10 to book their place in the last four against France, who had twice come from behind against Spain to win 19-14 in extra-time.
Fiji and Great Britain could not be separated in regulation time despite a frenetic end-to-end conclusion. And the chaos didn’t end there – Terio Tamani’s match-winning extra-time touchdown had to go to the TMO after his celebration touchdown dive nearly took him out of the in-goal area.
It was the second tight match in a row for the Pacific islanders after they came from behind to beat South Africa 10-7 in a tense third quarter-final.
Great Britain, meanwhile, bagged the last available semi-final slot with a 21-10 win over USA.
Fifth-place: Argentina’s Osadczuk uses his head to claim win
A moment of football-style genius/madness ended a slow-burn thriller between Argentina and South Africa. Scoreless for 12 minutes, the game exploded into life when Joaquin Pellandini touched down to give Argentina a 7-0 lead. Ricardo Duarttee crossed just before the final whistle for the Blitzboks to take the score to 7-5.
South Africa needed to claim the restart as the clock ticked into the red. But they didn’t get the chance, as Matías Osadczuk headed the kick-off into touch to end the match.
Argentina had earlier ended Spain’s Hong Kong adventure with a workmanlike 19-0 win, while South Africa ran in six tries to beat USA 38-7.
Ninth-place play-off: No late comeback for Samoa
A missed conversion after the gong denied Samoa the chance to take the ninth-place play-off against Ireland into extra-time. Paul Scanlan’s superb touchdown with the clock in the red was the final score as the Irish claimed a 19-17 win.
Ireland had already ended Uruguay’s Hong Kong run with a 31-7 win. Jordan Conroy had earlier scored the opening try of finals day, as they beat Canada 17-0 and earned the right to play Uruguay, who had run in six tries to beat Japan 40-0.
Samoa’s route to the play-off included a 15-12 win over defending Hong Kong champions Australia, thanks to two Vaa Apelu Maliko tries, and a four-score 26-12 victory over Kenya.
13th play-off: Twin-win joy for hosts Hong Kong China
Two wins in a row – their first and second in the tournament since 2021 – earned spirited Hong Kong China 13th place. Mak Kwai Chung, Liam Herbert and Max Denmark the try heroes as they beat Canada 17-7.
“It’s a lot to take in, it’s very, very special for us,” captain Max Woodward said afterwards.
Earlier, try-machine Max Denmark admitted he was, “on the verge of tears” after Hong Kong China won their first match since 2021, beating Kenya 19-10 in the 13th-placed semi-final. “It feels so good to finally get a win in Hong Kong in front of the Hong Kong fans – there’s nothing better!”
Canada, meanwhile, were made to work for the 19-12 win over Japan that took them into the 13th-place play-off.
SOURCE: WORLD RUGBY/PACNEWS