Alasio Sovita Naduva scored a hat-trick as Fiji completed a thrilling comeback to beat the Blitzboks 24-17 in the Hamilton Sevens Cup final on Sunday.
Tries from Kwagga Smith, Kyle Brown and Branco du Preez put South Africa into a 17-5 halftime lead, but the Fijians rolled out a direct, confrontational plan after the restart that their rivals couldn’t live with and the Blitzboks were beaten 19-0 in the second half.
Fortunately for South Africa, Fiji had eliminated New Zealand 14-12 in the semi-finals and, as result, the Blitzboks added an extra four points to their lead over the Kiwis on the 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series standings. Fiji climbed from fifth to third place.
There was more silver lining for the Hamilton Sevens runners-up as South Africa scored the most points at the fourth tournament while Seabelo Senatla topped the Performance Tracker list.
South Africa streaked into the final after blanking Scotland 22-0 in the quarters and avenging last week’s loss in the Sydney Sevens with a convincing 24-5 victory against Australia in the semi-final.
But a depleted Blitzboks lineup missing the abrasiveness of injured captain Philip Snyman and fellow forwards Ruhan Nel and Dylan Sage, and playmakers Rosko Specman and Justin Geduld, in the decider could not cope with the force applied by the physically imposing Fijians.
Las Vegas is the next stop on the circuit, with a three-day tournament that kicks off on March 2.
2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series standings
1 South Africa (77 points)
2 New Zealand (69)
3 Fiji (62)
4 Australia (60)
5 Argentina (48)