Australia downs Fiji to win Hong Kong Sevens, Canadian men finish 10th

HONG KONG — Nathan Lawson's last-minute try gave Australia a 20-17 win over Fiji in the final of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on Sunday, ending the Fijians' run of five straight tournament titles.

With a Fiji player in the sin-bin, Australia won the ball back at the breakdown and Lawson raced down the left flank. He managed to get the ball down in the corner with two Fijians draped over him, with the try surviving video review.

"After having done so well last year, to come out here and back it up straightaway and win Hong Kong for the first time since 1988, incredible. I think we're cutting a few years off our coach's life leaving it so late," said Australia captain Nick Malouf.

Said Fiji coach Ben Gollings: "Ultimately 30 seconds of rugby was the difference in the end but credit to the boys, (it) was a tough year and they stuck at it and like I said the consistency and being in another final is fantastic."

France won the bronze, edging Samoa 19-17.

The Canadian men finished 10th, losing 33-5 to New Zealand in the ninth-place playoff. After going 1-2-0 in pool play, Canada downed Hong Kong 19-17 and Britain 17-12 before running into the All Blacks who failed to reach the Hong Kong quarterfinals for the first time after finishing third in Pool A with losses to Samoa and Australia.

The popular Hong Kong event, which had been on hiatus since 2019 due to the pandemic, was the first of 11 rounds in the HSBC World Rugby Seven Series.

Two quarterfinals and one semifinal required extra time.

Australia reached the final with a 10-7 win over France thanks to a golden-point penalty kick from Maurice Longbottom, whose extra-time try capped a 26-19 comeback win over Ireland in the quarterfinal.

Fiji beat Commonwealth Games champion South Africa 12-7 in the quarterfinal and Samoa 19-7 in the semifinal.

Olympic bronze medallist Argentina, which open the tournament with a 36-0 win over Canada, beat the U.S. 36-0 to finish fifth.

Uruguay finished 13th in its debut as a Series core team, defeating Britain (19-17), Kenya (10-7) and Japan (33-10) to finish 13th.

Matt Oworu scored the lone Canadian try in the loss to New Zealand, which led 21-0 at the half.

David Richard's second try of the game helped Canada to a 19-17 comeback win over Hong Kong. And Elias Ergas's last-minute try carried the Canadians to a 17-12 victory over Britain.

The top four men's and women's teams this season will earn Olympic qualification for Paris in 2024.

The men's field will be reduced to 12 from 16 at the end of the season to equal the number of women’s teams and align with the Olympic competition structure.

The Canadian men, rebuilding after a slew of retirements following the Tokyo Olympics, finished 14th last season.

The Series' next stop is Dubai where the women's Series will commence, as part of a combined event with the men on Dec. 2-3, before both men and women move on to Cape Town for a Dec. 9-11 event.

The Canada women have been drawn in Pool A in Dubai along with defending Series champions Australia, the U.S. and China.

The Canadian men are in Pool D with Samoa, the U.S. and Japan.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2022

The Canadian Press