The All Blacks Sevens fell just short of a winning end to their season, losing 35-24 to Fiji in the final of the Paris leg of the World Series. Fiji’s win also means they win the overall series for the season, their fourth overall.
Earlier, the All Blacks Sevens had made the final thanks to victories over Argentina in their quarter final, then South Africa in their semi.
The championship was actually decided in the Cup semi final as Fiji beat the second-placed USA.
Fiji scored their first points in this year’s final after just 30 seconds. Napolioni Bolaca’s try was converted and then quickly added to by Meli Derenalagi.
The freshly crowned series winners then shot out to a big first half lead as Bolaca accumulated 18 of their 28 first-half points. That then became 35-7 before the New Zealanders mounted a late comeback to add some respectability to the scoreline. Regan Ware crossed twice for the All Blacks Sevens and Dylan Collier added another try to make it 35-24 at the final hooter.
"Last year we came here and we were further in front but we did not have the wherewithal to finish it off. That was quite painful," said Fijian head coach Gareth Baber.
"I thought that the back end of the season, carrying on from Hong Kong with Singapore, London last week and to round it off as we did, is pretty special. It’s all credit to everybody back home in Fiji, everybody who has supported us and kept patient. But, most of all to the staff and the quality outfit that we have playing for us."
The All Blacks Sevens finished third in the overall standings for the year, with Andrew Knewstubb ending the 10 rounds as the top points-scorer on the World Series.