Fiji have beaten New Zealand 12-7 to advance to the semi finals of the Olympic men’s sevens tournament, ending the All Blacks Sevens hopes of a medal.
The World Series champions opened the scoring with a try to skipper Osea Kolinisau in the second minute of the match in wet conditions at the Deodoro Stadium.
Rieko Ioane was sent to the sin bin midway through the first half for what was deemed a dangerous spear tackle but the All Blacks Sevens still managed to find the tryline through Gilles Kaka and led 7-5 at the interval.
Fiji regained the lead with a try to Jerry Tuwai shortly after halftime and Osea Kolinisau coverted to make it 12-7.
A knock on gave New Zealand one last chance to attack in the final seconds of the match but a poor pass under pressure from Gilles Kaka forced Akira Ioane to collect the ball in an isolated position and the Fiji defence was quick over the ball to win the penalty and kick the ball to touch to ensure victory.
Fiji Chef de Mission Cathy Wong said the whole team has been inspired by Fiji’s sevens performances.
“The game against New Zealand was a high pressure game and I think with Fiji going in our aim is to win every game along the way – each game is a final for us. We can’t believe we’ve got this far to date and it’s just an amazing atmosphere,” she said.
“At the same time we’ve got to make sure we take one game (at a time) – each game is a final for us. As far as Team Fiji is concerned, I can say this – I speak for the people of Fiji – we are really really proud of the performances the boys have done so far to date. They do have the full support of the nation behind them and not only the nation, they do have the full support of just about every Pacific island in the Pacific that’s cheering Team Fiji on to, if possible, our first ever medal at the Olympic Games.
“The team spirit is just high – we really are riding on a very very good atmosphere. A classic example was this morning, as the boys were preparing to go out to the game, everyone that had finished their competition they got the esky out, they filled the esky with fruit and muffins and things and they just told the boys “you guys sit” and the rest of the team actually went out and collected all the muffins and patched up everything and delivered it to the boys and that’s the kind of atmosphere that’s really flowing in the team right now,” she said.
“The support for our boys is not only in rugby but just for every other competing athlete and those who have finished their competition.”
Fiji will face Japan, who beat France 12 -7, for a place in the Olympic final. A win will guarantee Fiji a first ever Olympic medal while a loss will still put them into a playoff for bronze.
Earlier this morning Fiji beat the USA 24-19 to finish atop Group A with a perfect three wins and save New Zealand the embarrassment of exiting in the group stage.