Fiji were outstanding in beating defending champions New Zealand 33-19, their second consecutive Cup final win, at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, round six of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
The win puts them just two points behind South Africa (110) in the overall series standings and one point ahead of third-placed New Zealand (107), with Australia (84) and England (78) rounding out the top five as the race for Olympic qualification continues.
"This victory is certainly up there," Fiji's coach Ben Ryan, who won his first-ever Hong Kong title, said. "Outstanding performance by the team, they controlled the game really well tactically. Our bench were magnificent. We've spent a lot of time of defence and it's starting to pay dividends."
Fiji started brightly with tries to Savenaca Rawaca and Jerry Tuwai to race to a 14-0 lead. Rawaca's second, against the run of play, extended the lead to 21-0 before Beaudine Waaka scored in the corner right on the break.
Sherwin Stowers created space for Scott Curry to cross adjacent to the posts to get his side back in the game at 21-12 but Jasa Veremalua responded immediately for the Pacific islanders. The All Black Sevens fought back again with Curry picking up his second after good lead up work from Sam Dickson but Fiji's Apisai Domolailai extended the lead again to put the result beyond doubt with less than a minute to play.
Earlier, South Africa beat Samoa 26-5 in the play-off for third place, picking up 17 valuable points to maintain their place at the top of the overall series standings.
Earlier in the Cup semi-final, Jerry Tuwai broke free to score Fiji's first followed by tries to Semi Kunatani and Pio Tuwai. Frankie Horne, Cecil Afrika and Seabelo Senatla hit back with tries for the Blitzboks in the second half to reduce the lead to 21-15 as the match went down to the wire.
Sir Gordon Tietjens' side scored a late penalty drop-goal from Joe Webber to secure a 15-14 victory over Samoa to set up a repeat of the USA Sevens final.
Scott Curry and Sherwin Stowers capitalised for a 12-0 half-time lead before Samoa struck back on the resumption of play with Lafaele Vaa breaking free of the All Blacks Sevens defence before Samoa Taloa gave his side a 14-12 lead. Curry gave Webber the ball once a penalty had been won to secure the defending champions' place in the final.
"The boys were really blowing and there was only a minute left so we took the shot," said Curry. "Now we owe Fiji one from Vegas and hopefully the boys can get up for the final here in Hong Kong."
Earlier Fiji took an unexpected 7-5 lead into the break after England had the run of play in the first half. Jerry Tuwai scored for Fiji on the stroke of half-time after England's Phil Burgess crossed out-wide earlier. In the second half Samisoni Viriviri was awarded a penalty-try just after the break, extending their lead to 14-5 before Dan Norton scored late to set up a tense final minute.
The All Blacks Sevens proved too strong for Argentina running out 31-21 winners. First half tries to Beaudine Waaka and Scott Curry set New Zealand on the path to the semis, a Santiago Alvarez try keeping Argentina within reach 14-7 at the break. The All Black Sevens took control in the second half with tries to Sherwin Stowers, a neat-stepping Joe Webber and Jordan Bunce. Alex Muller and Rodrigo Etchart replying late for Los Pumas.
AUSTRALIA DEFEAT USA IN PLATE FINAL
Australia beat the USA 21-17, collecting their second consecutive win in a Plate final andvaluable Series points. Breakaway tries from the USA's Andrew Durutalo and speedster Perry Baker gave the Eagles a 12-7 lead at half-time after Australia's Allan Fa'alava'au had earlier dashed to the try-line unapposed. But tries to Shannon Walker and Cameron Clark looked to have wrapped up the victory for Geraint John's side.
Unlucky not to pull off an upset over Fiji in the Cup quarters, England also suffered defeat to Australia as both sides battled it out for fourth place in the Series.
Captain Ed Jenkins scored twice as Australia recorded a 12-7 win over Simon Amor's side to face USA in the final, which means they will extend their lead over England in fourth place. The USA beat Argentina 28-14 thanks to tries from Danny Barrett, Maka Unufe, Perry Baker and Zack Test.
SCOTLAND CONVINCING WINNERS IN BOWL FINAL
Both teams impressed on day three but it was Scotland prevailing 26-5 in the final against France, posting first points through James Johnstone before Virimi Vakatawa reduced the margin to two points at the break. Two tries to Colin Gregor and Johnstone's second sealing the win for Callum MacRae's men.
"We worked hard to win the breakdown and have played smarter, and won three on day three," said Scotland captain Scott Riddell. "We need the belief in ourselves, the performance is there. We need to be more consistent and keep bringing it game after game."
France score six tries to three in defeating Canada 38-19 on their way to the Bowl final, Pierre Gilles Lakafia scoring a hat-trick as Les Bleus worked their way back into the match from 7-0 down. Liam Underwood one of Canada's best scored a brace but it was not enough for Liam Middleton's side.
KENYA TAKE SHIELD OVER BRAVE BLOSSOMS
Kenya proved too strong for Japan, winning 26-7 and scoring four tries to one in the Sheild final. After trading first-half tries courtesy of Collins Injera, who became the all-time leading try scorer in Hong Kong on 26, and Katsuyuki Sakai, a brace from Billy Odhiambo and a late Leonard Mugaisi try gave the Africans the ascendency.
Captain Andrew Amonde hopes to build on this Shield success next weekend in Tokyo: "We needed a morale-boosting victory and we are happy to win the Shield. It's been a tough weekend for us but this will give us confidence ahead of Tokyo next weekend."
Kenya scored three unanswered tries on their way to the Shield final with a 21-0 win over Portugal while Japan were too strong for Belgium 42-7, Brave Blossoms playmaker Lomano Lemeki scoring two tries in an emphatic win.