Fiji’s streak of consecutive pool play wins came to an end, and the loss stung the 2015 Las Vegas champions more since it came against its South Pacific neighbor.
Samoa rallied to stun Fiji 28-24 in the opening game of Pool C at the USA Sevens rugby tournament Friday at Sam Boyd Stadium. It was Fiji’s first loss in the pool stage since the 2014 London tournament.
In a back-and-forth thriller, Fiji regained the lead 24-21 with two minutes left in the second half. With the seven minutes expired, Samoan Faalemiga Selesele converted a turnover and flipped the ball to Savelio Ropati, who took the ball into the try line for the win.
Fiji entered the day tied atop the HSBC World Series standings with New Zealand and South Africa at 69 points. Samoa ranked 10th with 29 points.
An angry Fiji squad bounced back with a 42-12 drubbing of France to end the day 1-1.
The U.S. also had a tough time with a neighboring nation. It wasn’t a loss for the Eagles, but a tie to Canada is just as bad.
The Americans thought they had a 2-0 record on the first day of the tournament after building a 26-7 advantage against the Canucks.
The Canadians responded with a 19-0 run to close the second half and left the pitch with a 26-26 tie.
Japan came into Las Vegas with eight points for 13th place. The Brave Blossoms kicked off the USA Sevens competition with a shocking 19-19 tie versus England.
In fact, the English needed a miracle rally and clutch kick to tie the Japanese, who led 17-5.
England’s Tom Mitchell calmly connected on a 22-meter line kick with time expired to avoid the upset loss.
A legend’s try for Olympics
Bryan Habana is a star in any style of rugby. A South African 15s legend, Habana made his debut Friday for the Blitzboks in an attempt to make the national team for the Olympic Games in Rio this summer.
Habana, who had only competed in two Sevens tournament, didn’t start the first half against Canada. Habana entered the game in the second half, and it didn’t take him long to find the try line.
Habana had a quiet outing against Wales, but his team didn’t need him. South Africa dominated Wales 33-0 to end the day 2-0 and lead Pool D heading into Day 2.
The Fastest Men in Rugby
Carlin Isles is known as “The Fastest Man in Rugby,” but American teammate Perry Baker has his own set of wheels.
Isles kicked off the highlight reels with arguably the best play of Friday’s 16 games.
Folau Niua fired a long kick for Isles to chase on the left side of the pitch in the first half against Wales. Isles, an Olympic Trials sprinter, outran two Dragons and dived into the try line with Luke Morgan on his back. The U.S. won 19-12.
Baker also had his own kick-and-sprint play in the Eagles’ second pool game against Canada. Baker kicked the ball ahead of himself and managed to recover it before it could go out of bounds and sprinted on the right edge of the pitch for the try.
He followed that up by going end-to-end to score a try and give the U.S. a 26-7 advantage against Canada before the collapse.
Contact Gilbert Manzano at email@example.com or 702-383-0492. Follow him on Twitter:@gmanzano24