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Fiji almost undone by Japanese exports in Tokyo Olympics rugby sevens

Fiji almost undone by Japanese exports in Tokyo Olympics rugby sevens

Members of Fiji's men's rugby sevens team hold the ball before the start of their match against Japan at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo on Jul 26, 2021. (Photo: AP/Shuji Kajiyama)

TOKYO: Fiji made a shaky start to the defence of their Olympic men's rugby sevens title on Monday (Jul 26), almost undone by two Fijian exports in the Japan side in the opening round at Tokyo Stadium.

Tries by Fiji-born Lote Tuqiri and Kameli Soejima had sent Japan into a 19-12 lead, with alarm bells ringing that an upset mirroring the hosts' stunning victory over New Zealand in the opening round of the Rio Games was on the cards.

But a late brace of tries by Waisea Nacuqu pushed Fiji back into the lead and an eventual 24-19 victory.

The Fijians did not wait long before bothering the scoresheet, Jiuta Wainiqolo crossing after just 20 seconds following a Japanese mistake from the kick-off.

Japan skipper Matsui Chihito responded in fine fashion, skipping away from a flat defence.

But Fiji again contested the restart, the ball finding Iosefo Baleiwairiki, who with one step was away to restore the lead.

Japan, however, held the half-time lead after Tuqiri was played into space after some clever footwork by New Zealand-born playmaker Colin Bourke.

An upset was on the cards as veteran Soejima soared to take the kick-off and fend off a lame challenge of a tackle by Jerry Tuwai for a try in the corner.

But Nacuqu pounced on two basic mistakes, and Fijian worries were allayed.

Japan had one final chance when Asaeli Tuivuaka was yellow carded with 35 seconds to play, but a fluffed attacking line-out saw Fiji close down the game.

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Source: AFP/kg


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