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Fiji defeats New Zealand, clinches back-to-back gold medals in rugby 7s

Fiji defeats New Zealand, clinches back-to-back gold medals in rugby 7s
Posted at 12:43 AM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 05:52:21-04

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Fiji conquered New Zealand 27-12 in the final of the Tokyo Olympics men's rugby tournament, repeated as gold medalists in a match that featured the two best teams in the world.

Fiji, the island nation of 800,000 whose national sports isn't just rugby but rugby sevens, has now won both Olympic gold medals after triumphing in the sports' debut at the Rio 2016 Games.

The Flying Fijians blitzed the All-Blacks early in the first half, scoring a pair of tries in under three minutes. Two mistakes from New Zealand gave Fiji the ball in their own end, and Ratu Meli Derenalagi and Sireli Maqala took full advantage. Jiuta Wainiqolo, the "Magic Mustache," added Fiji's third first-half try.

New Zealand responded, however, with two tries of their own courtesy of powerful sprints from team captain Scott Curry and Sione Molia to enter the halftime break trailing 19-12.

Midway through a second half filled with palpable intensity, Asaeli Tuivuaka finished off a try as Fiji battered New Zealand down the field.

A late penalty conversion for Fiji brought the final tally to 27-12. At the final whistle, the Fijians fell to their knees as tears of pride flowed.

Fiji extended their unbeaten run in Olympic competition to 12 games out of 12.

Bronze medal match

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Argentina faced off against Great Britain who was looking to repeat on the podium after winning silver in 2016. Argentina found themselves in the bronze medal match after upsetting South Africa in the quarterfinals. Argentina continued its great tournament clinching the bronze medal winning 17-12.

Great Britain scored the first try of the match when Ben Harris showed off his speed to score just 24 seconds into the match. Argentina found the scoreboard late in the first half, executing a great set play off the back of the scrum. Lautaro Bazan Velez faked directions and was able to walk in untouched. The momentum shifted after that with Marcos Moneta tacking on another try for Argentina just 90 seconds later. Going into the half it was 12-5 Argentina. 

With the lead Argentina took a calculated risk late in the half opting for a scrum instead of a kick off a penalty in order to control the clock. It ended up paying off, even though Great Britain got possession of the ball. The Brits committed a penalty as time expired, leading to jubilation for Argentina as they kicked the ball into touch clinching the bronze medal.

SEE MORE: Argentina wins bronze in men's rugby