HONG KONG - Fiji won a tense final against South Africa 26-24 to claim their first Hong Kong Sevens title in 10 years yesterday.
The Fijians turned on the style in a flamboyant first half before clinging on as South Africa agonisingly put a last-gasp conversion wide.
Fiji took the last of 10 previous Hong Kong titles in 1999 and also lifted the 2005 World Cup in Hong Kong, while three-time finalists South Africa are still searching for their first tournament win.
Two tries from Emosi Vucago and another from Osea Kolinisau put Fiji 19-0 up before South Africa's Renfred Dazel and Robert Ebersohn pulled it back to 19-12 at half time.
Seremaia Burotu skipped past three tackles to score early in the second half but indiscipline nearly cost Fiji dear as both Nasoni Roko and Vereniki Goneva were sin-binned.
South Africa scored through Vuyo Zangqa and then Lionel Mapoe after the hooter to give them a chance to force extra time, but captain Mzwandile Stick put the vital conversion attempt right of the posts.
Fiji take the title with a new-look squad after ditching the overseas-based stars who were humbled in this month's World Cup quarterfinals by Kenya.
With the win, they go third in the Sevens World Series standings behind South Africa and England with three tournaments to go.
Fiji also stunned England 10-7 with a late try in the quarter-finals and convincingly beat Kenya 24-7 in the semis.
"I'm utterly disappointed," said England coach Ben Ryan. "Sevens is like that - it's on the turn of a coin, a change of advantage. One decision and the game changes."
South Africa downed Australia in the quarterfinals before beating Samoa 29-3 in the last four.
But defending champions New Zealand were left waiting for their first title of the season after being shocked 10-7 by Kenya in the quarterfinals.
In the second-tier Plate final, Tonga landed a conversion after the hooter to beat Canada 14-12, while Portugal downed Uruguay by the same score to claim the Bowl trophy. - Sapa-AFP