HONG KONG (AP) — Fiji successfully defended its Hong Kong Sevens rugby title by coming from 19-0 down at halftime to beat Wales 26-19 in the final on Sunday.

Substitute Osea Kolinisau starred with three tries but Fiji's record-extending 12th Hong Kong title was tinged by controversy.

Halfway through a first half dominated by first-time finalist Wales, Lee Williams was spear-tackled onto his head by Ilai Tinai, who was lucky to be carded yellow and not red. In Tinai's absence, Wales scored its third try and was in command by the break.

But Fiji's replacements paid off, with a three-try blitz in less than three minutes. Kolinisau went over a minute after the restart, weaved past three defenders for his second, and Samisoni Viriviri scored from the kickoff to even the score.

With a minute left, a tap penalty from inside Fiji's half ended with Kolinisau scoring the winning try, converted by Emosi Mulevoro.

The result was a perfect kickstart to Fiji's centenary year celebrations. The team entered under a cloud after captain Setefano Cakau ruptured ligaments in his left knee during training last week, but won successive Hong Kong titles for the first time since 1999.

Fiji also became the first two-time winner in the sevens world series this season after six tournaments.

Overall, Fiji jumped from fourth to second in the series standings behind arch foe New Zealand, which Fiji also rallied to beat in the semifinals 33-14 from 14-0 behind.

New Zealand finished third, crushing Kenya 36-5 to lead the series by a healthy 25 points over Fiji, and 29 over Samoa, the plate winner.

Wales routed Kenya 19-0 in the other semifinal.

The Tokyo Sevens will take place next weekend.

 

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