CAPE TOWN - Olympic champions Fiji turned on a dazzling display to win the Rugby World Cup Sevens after emphatic victories against Australia and New Zealand at the Cape Town Stadium on Sunday (Sept 11).
Fiji overwhelmed Australia 38-14 in the semi-finals before romping to a 29-12 win over New Zealand in the final.
It was Fiji's third world title, but their first since 2005, while New Zealand had won the previous two editions in 2013 and 2018.
Fiji scored five tries against the All Blacks, whose defence had only been breached twice in their first three matches.
Fiji made a sensational start, scoring two tries in the first two minutes through Joseva Talacola and Kaminieli Rasaku.
Moses Leo hit back for New Zealand but Elia Canakaivata and Filipe Sauturaga crossed the All Blacks line again to give Fiji a 24-5 half-time lead.
Two yellow cards early in the second half threatened to undermine Fiji, but New Zealand's Akuila Rokolisoa was also sent to the sin bin soon after he narrowed the deficit with a try.
Pilipo Bukayaro sealed victory for the Fijians in the last minute.
"This is huge for Fiji," coach Ben Gollings told SuperSport TV. "The boys have been fantastic. We can score tries but we also have to stop them and it was a huge defensive performance."
Strong-running Maddison Levi scored a hat-trick of tries as Australia denied New Zealand a third successive women's title. Australia won 24-22 after both teams scored four tries.
Faith Nathan scored Australia's fourth try while Kelly Brazier, Stacey Fluhler, Shiray Kaka and Alena Saili crossed for New Zealand.
New Zealand trailed by 14 points with two minutes to play but hit back with two tries, the last by Saili almost two minutes after the final hooter.
Tenika Willison narrowly missed a conversion attempt which would have taken the match to extra time.
In the men's semi-finals, Fiji scored six tries against Australia, with their handling and switches of direction enabling them to outclass the Australians.
New Zealand had a more difficult semi-final, beating tenacious Ireland 17-10 with Ngarohi McGarvey-Black scoring their three tries.
Ireland went on to claim the bronze medal, beating Australia 19-14. Argentina took fifth place with a 10-7 win against France while hosts South Africa ended a disappointing campaign with a 35-5 rout of Samoa in the seventh-place contest.
England, eliminated by Ireland in their opening match on Friday, won the Challenge final for teams which failed to reach the quarter-finals, by defeating Uruguay 28-5.
In three matches after being knocked out of contention for the main trophy they scored 99 points and conceded only five.
France took the women's bronze medal with a 29-7 win against the United States after being beaten 38-7 by New Zealand in the semi-finals. AFP