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Hong Kong final 'not to be': Tietjens

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/04/2016

NZ's DJ Forbes, center, is tackled by Fiji's Semi Kunatani, left, and Isake Katonibau at the Hong Kong Sevens final. © AP NZ's DJ Forbes, center, is tackled by Fiji's Semi Kunatani, left, and Isake Katonibau at the Hong Kong Sevens final. An exhausted New Zealand side couldn't repeat their semi-final heroics in the Hong Kong Sevens, going down 21-7 to the sizzling Fijians in the rain in the final.

Fiji also flogged Australia 34-5 in their semi and with the Rio Olympics just four months away now top New Zealand in the world series standings following their 16th Hong Kong win.

Pita Ahki opened the scoring for New Zealand, but Fiji then struck back with tries to Jerry Duwai, Kitione Taliga and Semi Kunatani.

Sir Gordon Tietjens said the loss will be character-building for some of his younger players and he will also have to find three replacements for the next tournament.

Captain Tim Mikkelson, Sam Dickson and possibly Lewis Ormond will be out for Singapore.

Tietjens was still proud of his side in a tough draw, tough tournament and tight games. They scraped past Kenya 5-0 in pool play and then scored a last-gasp 12-7 victory over South Africa in the semi-final, 10 minutes into extra time.

"We basically played two games of sevens against South Africa in extra time. Obviously a really tough one but a satisfying win," Tietjens said.

However, he wasn't blaming that for tiring his players, saying the final "wasn't to be".

"We lost to a better Fijian team on the night.

"It (exhaustion) might have played a minor role perhaps. We were competitive in the final but just not good enough."

The young players were hurting but it was only one game, he said.

Fiji also pulled a final appearance out of the bag. They were seconds from being beaten by Kenya in the quarter-finals before snatching victory with a try after the siren.

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