LONDON — Fiji defeated South Africa 21-17 Sunday to win the London Sevens, its fourth straight tournament victory — and fifth in the last six stops — on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
South Africa made it exciting, scoring a try with 35 seconds to close the margin to two points. But they could not get the ball back at the restart and Fiji ran out the clock to extend its win streak on the circuit to 25 games.
Ireland, an invitational side, capped its dream run at Twickenham by defeating England 21-19 to finish third.
Each tournament sees one invitational team join the 15 core teams on the World Series. Ireland is the first non-core country to earn a medal.
Fiji extended its their lead atop the season standings with 167 points, seven ahead off No. 2 South Africa. New Zealand, which finished fifth here, is third at 133 points
Canada moved up from 11th to ninth position.
Fiji is after its third World Series title in four years before taking aim at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in July. The World Series season ends next weekend in Paris.
Josua Tuisova, Paula Dranisinukula and Jasa Veremalua scored for Fiji in the final, which was tied 7-7 at the half. Stedman Gans, Ruhan Nel and Zain Davids replied for South Africa, which lost star strike runners Cecil Afrika and Branko du Preez to injury Saturday.
After making the Cup quarter-final for just the second time this season, Canada ran into a red-hot Fiji side. The Pacific Islanders posted an easy 40-7 win before Canada’s campaign ended 27-19 in a seesaw battle with the U.S.
Canada went 2-1 on the opening day, defeating Samoa and Russia and losing to South Africa.
Harry Jones and Mike Fuailefau both scored milestones tries Saturday, with Jones touching down for his 100th World Series try while Fuailefau notched No. 50.
But there was little to celebrate Sunday against Fiji as Canada was outclassed and outhit.
Semi Radradra opened the scoring for Fiji, eluding three Canadian defenders and racing 75 metres for a try. Justin Douglas caught him near the line but could not stop the Fiji flyer, who plays club rugby in France for Toulon, from touching down.
Canada cut the lead to 14-7 in the dying seconds of the half when Douglas beat his man to score his 40th try of the season.
Fiji needed just 25 seconds to score in the second half, winning the restart before Dranisinukula ran in for the try. Kalione Nasoko, Veremalua and Vatemo Ravouvou added late tries as Fiji completed the rout against a tired Canadian side.
The loss dropped Canada’s World Series record against Fiji to 4-45-0. The Canadians won last time out, defeating the Fijians 22-14 in Cape Town in December.
Kevon Williams scored two tries and Carlin Isles, Martin Iosefo and Madison Hughes added singles for the U.S. against Canada in a game that saw seven lead changes.
Lucas Hammond, Jones and Douglas replied for Canada.
The game turned late in the second half with the U.S., leading 20-19, mounting a defensive stand that ended with Canada’s Nate Hirayama being cut down a metre or two from the try-line. Off the ensuing lineout, the Americans launched a slick attack from under their goalposts that Hughes finished off for the win
Canada’s best finish this season was a fourth in Cape Town, losing to host South Africa in the bronze-medal game in the second stop of the Series.
The Canadians placed 11th in Dubai, 13th in Sydney, 11th in Hamilton, 10th in Las Vegas, 14th in Vancouver, 10th in Hong Kong and 10th in Singapore (where it won the previous season).
But after an injury-riddled season, Canada coach Damian McGrath was able to bring almost a full squad to London.
Canada will play next round in a pool against No. 2 South Africa, No. 11 Scotland and No. 15 Russia in Paris France.