SINGAPORE - Daveta captain Veniona Vuki has visited Singapore twice in the past year for the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) International Rugby Sevens and his experiences have been dramatic to say the least.
Last year, he and his team suffered a heartbreaking extra-time defeat by the France Development Team in the final.
On Saturday, he lost a tooth in a ruck during a 14-7 Pool B win over Palmyra.
After skippering Daveta to a 12-5 quarter-final victory over SCC and a 52-0 thumping of Stanislas Sevens in the semi-final, Vuki suffered another setback when he was banished to the bench for two minutes in the Ablitt Cup final against Casuarina Cougars after a dubious yellow card for foul play in a rainy first half.
"But the sun shines on the righteous. After the upset last year and all that has happened this year, this win feels so sweet," said the 27-year-old prop, after leading his team to a 24-17 win and a post-victory Fijian hymn of celebration.
Not even the rain could deter Daveta, as they were on song from the first minute, when Leveni Tani scored a try after just 43 seconds. The centre would go on to score another and pick up the Player of the Tournament gong, while team-mates Josevata Malimoce and Aseri Vatuinaruku had one try apiece.
Vuki said: "I told them that this rain will bring us glory and happiness. We are prepared for all kinds of weather so we also sang a song before we went out to play.
"We worked on our fitness but also focused on our opponents' weakness. They did not play the ball fast and wide, and that made defending easier for us.
"Finally, there is something for me to be happy about here and I hope to be back next year to defend the Ablitt Cup."
The Cougars can hold their heads up high too, after tries by Jamie Kotz, Ben Johnston and Adam Field made it a respectable scoreline against the superior victors.
Cougars coach Daniel Seden did not elaborate on the reasons but revealed only eight players travelled from Darwin to Singapore for the tournament, with another reserve arriving only on Sunday.
They beat East Arnhem 36-5 in the quarter-finals and Auckland's Ponsonby 24-12 in the semi-finals.
He added: "Going all the way to the final is a big achievement in itself, with all the last-minute pull-outs. We dug deep and persevered in adversity against a quality team well-known in the sevens circuit."
Earlier in the day, in the other finals, Palmyra shut out Tamariva 17-0 for the Shield, Cottesloe beat Hong Kong Dragons 24-12 for the Plate, and Kurumi edged the SCC Barbarians 24-12 for the Bowl.
In the Schools and Colleges category, Tanglin Trust School extended their dominance in the Under-19 Sithawalla Cup by beating United World College (Dover) 15-7, retaining the title their seniors have won since 2014.
Fraser Liang scored two tries and Toby White grabbed the other as Tanglin handled the ball with care. And even though they failed to convert for extra points, the three tries were enough to extend their domination.
Tanglin captain Kit Sorgo said: "We held our own even though we are smaller, and the chemistry of having seven of us play together for four years showed as we did the simple things right.
"We dropped just one or two balls in the entire game and were able to get the ball out wide to our fast guys, who did superbly to score.
"Tanglin have a proud tradition in this competition and we didn't want to be the guys who broke the streak and I'm happy our hard work paid off today."