- Associated Press - Sunday, January 27, 2019

HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) - Fiji beat the United States 38-0 to win the New Zealand leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series on Sunday, defending its title and consigning the Americans to their third straight loss in a tournament final.

The win was Fiji’s second in consecutive tournaments this season after it took the Cape Town leg of the series and lifts it level on points with the United States atop the series table.

The U.S. became only the fourth team to reach the final of the first three tournaments of a season but has yet to claim a title after losing to New Zealand in the opening round in Dubai and to Fiji in South Africa. It was appearing in a New Zealand final for the first time.

Fiji was simply too strong and too skilled on Sunday, running in six tries in an emphatic victory. Playmaker Jerry Tuwai scored two of those tries and was named player of the tournament while Alosio Naduva scored two tries in the second half.

The Waikato Regional Stadium was full of Fiji fans on both days of the tournament, cheering Fiji to an unbeaten record in its pool on Saturday and to a 33-7 win over Canada in Sunday’s quarterfinals and a 29-7 win over defending World Series champion South Africa in the semifinals.

New Zealand beat South Africa 29-7 in the playoff for third place.

Fiji is tied with the United States on 57 points in the overall standings after three rounds while New Zealand has 54 points and South Africa 44.

Coach Gareth Baber said Fiji’s win was “obviously very special.”

“We want to thank the Fiji fans who certainly lifted us today,” he said. “Our intention after South Africa was just to keep carrying on. It’s hard work, it’s perseverance, it’s believing in each other … but most of all it’s believing in all the people back in Fiji.”

The next leg of the series is in Sydney next weekend.

Eds: Please note this story corrects the short and extended headlines to show Fiji as tournament winner


More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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