Fiji won a fifth Hong Kong Sevens in a row with a 21-7 victory over France. Find out how they did it & what it means for the World Sevens Series standings.

The history of the Hong Kong Sevens is dominated by Fiji. Before this year's tournament, the South Sea Islanders had taken the spoils at the most prestigious event on the World Sevens Series circuit an astonishing 18 times - seven more than their nearest rivals, New Zealand. What's more, they'd won the last four Hong Kong Sevens in a row.

All the talk in the lead-up to this year's tournament was about whether or not they could do it again. The men in white answered that question in emphatic style, creating history with their fifth consecutive victory in Hong Kong.

The record they surpassed was their own; no other team has won the event more than three times in succession. To underline their dominance, Fiji have notched up three wins on the spin three times in the tournament's 43-year history - only England and New Zealand have previously achieved this feat.

Gareth Baber's side once again swept aside all before them at the Hong Kong Stadium. In truth, they were only seriously tested by Argentina in the quarter-finals, a match they won 29-24. Fiji triumphed in every other match by a margin of at least nine points, including demolitions of Australia (31-12) and New Zealand (24-5).

In the semi-finals, the US - who, lest we forget, are leading this year's World Sevens Series - were dispatched 28-19, while the culmination of the tournament never threatened to be a close contest, with surprise finalists France sliding to a 21-7 defeat.

Fiji's victory in Hong Kong was a lesson in ruthless efficiency. Early in the final's second half, they found themselves down to six men and with only a seven-point lead over France, but even then they simply refused to be rattled. A swift try - the second of the match - from the lethal Aminiasi Tuimaba quickly killed off the French fightback and the win was assured in front of an awestruck capacity crowd.

Baber, Fiji's Cardiff-born head coach, did his best to claim that the result was unexpected. "It's a fantastic feeling and I'm sure that it will sink in over the next two or three days," he said. But truthfully, the 46-year-old wouldn't have been satisfied with anything other than watching his team lift the trophy. After all, he took the reigns in 2016; Fiji have won the tournament in every year of his tenure.

Enough about Fiji; who else shone in Hong Kong?

Fiji may have taken the spoils, but they weren't the only team to impress in Hong Kong.

The US got back on track after a disappointing fourth-place finish in Vancouver by winning bronze, seeing off Samoa 22-10 in the playoff for third and fourth. They can now mathematically secure qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games with a strong showing at the Singapore Sevens (April 13th-14th).

Argentina bounced back from a run of three successive defeats to New Zealand, seeing off the Kiwis 21-14 in the fifth-place final courtesy of a late Matias Osadczuk try. Santiago Gómez Cora's men also overcame South Africa on the way to claiming 13 points - their second best finish of this year's World Sevens Series.

In the final of the second-tier Challenge Trophy, Scotland overturned a 24-7 deficit midway through the second half to run out 26-24 winners over Japan, thanks to a scintillating three-minute spell in which they dotted down three times.

But it wasn't all bad news for Japan. By earning seven points in Hong Kong, they equalled their strongest showing of the season and leapfrogged Wales into 14th place.

What does it all mean for the 2019 World Sevens Series standings?

With three rounds remaining, the 2019 World Sevens Series is still wide open at both ends of the standings.

Although the US turned in another consistent display - they've only finished outside the medals once all season - they have seen Fiji eat into their lead at the top of the table. Two rounds ago, there was a 14-point gap between the two teams, but after claiming bronze in Vancouver and gold in Hong Kong, Fiji are now within seven points of Mike Friday's men.

New Zealand, on the other hand, have fallen off a cliff over the past two tournaments, with just 25 points to show from their trips to Vancouver and Hong Kong. The gap to the US now stands at 12 points, leaving the Kiwis with an uphill struggle if they're to end an unprecedented run of five Sevens Series campaigns without lifting the title.

Things are even tighter at the other end of the table. Just three points separate 15th-placed Wales and Kenya in 13th. Japan are sandwiched between the two, having climbed off the bottom with their strong showing in Hong Kong. At the end of the season, the team that finishes 15th will be relegated and replaced by newly promoted Ireland.

Of the three nations, Kenya look the most likely to stay up, thanks in no small part to the try-scoring prowess of Vincent Onyala. But each has been at the foot of the standings at some point this season, so they'll all feel that they're fighting for their Sevens Series lives.



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