Rugby Sevens: NZ blow early lead to suffer thrashing at hands of Fiji

Fiji's Jasa Veremalua celebrates after scoring a try. Photo / AP
Fiji's Jasa Veremalua celebrates after scoring a try. Photo / AP

New Zealand threw away a 14-point lead to be thrashed 33-14 by Fiji in the semifinal of the cup competition of the Hong Kong sevens tonight.

It was an extremely disappointing performance and result for New Zealand, who enjoyed the perfect start when scoring early through Ben Lam, who ran in from 50m, and Rocky Khan, after a superb Tim Mikkelson run and no-look pass.

Mistakes quickly crept in though, and Fiji replied with a try to Samisoni Viriviri after the halftime hooter following a mistake by Khan, who failed to make the 10m with the restart.

After the break Viriviri scored his second and the New Zealanders, who looked shaky on defence throughout, couldn't get their hands on the ball. Another mistake allowed Jasa Veremalua to pounce on a loose Lote Raikabula pass to score a converted try and he followed it up with another soon after.

Ulaiyasi Lawavou sealed it for Fiji with another try.

Gordon Tietjens' men had cruised through pool play with easy wins over the USA, Kenya and France, before battling to a dramatic 21-14 quarter-final win over Samoa.

New Zealand lead the series and won't be overtaken after this weekend as South Africa, in second, failed to make the cup quarter-finals.

Fiji's opponents in the cup final, scheduled to kick off late tonight, are Wales.

Fiji 33 (Samisoni Viriviri 2, Jasa Veremalua 2, Ulaiyasi Lawavou tries; Ilai Tinai 4 cons) bt NZ 14 (Ben Lam, Rocky Khan tries; Khan 2 cons). HT: 14-7.

- APNZ

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