12 Nov 2018

Sport: Tonga, PNG qualify for World 7s Series

1:18 pm on 12 November 2018

Tonga will compete on the men's World Sevens Series for the first time in more than five years after finishing fifth at the Oceania Sevens in Suva.

The Kingdom defeated the Cook Islands 29-12 on Saturday to finish as the top placed non core team, qualifying them for the Hamilton and Sydney legs of the World Series, while both teams will compete in the Hong Kong World Series Qualifier.

Tongan rugby sevens team

Photo: Facebook

Tonga last featured on the World Series in the 2013/14 season when they competed in the Gold Coast and Wellington events, finishing winless in ten games.

The Kingdom did qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco earlier this year but were beaten by Kenya in the preliminary round.

Hosts Fiji defended the Oceania men's title, beating New Zealand 17-12 in the final, while Samoa pipped Australia 14-12 in the playoff for third place.

Fiji coach Gareth Baber said it was ideal preparation a welcome chance to get back into the format of an international competition ,with the new World Series campaign kicking off in Dubai at the end of the month.

"We've had an opportunity to play here in some local competitions but obviously getting back into the run of the two days in an international competition and progressing through that, how you deal with it mentally but in terms of your physical preparation recovery is hugely important in all that," he said.

Fiji retained the Oceania Men's Sevens title in 2018.

Fiji retained the Oceania Men's Sevens title in 2018. Photo: Oceania Rugby

"Getting yourself to play in semi-finals and finals against tough teams and seeing your way through that is all part of the science that is sevens rugby and fortunately we came out on top in this one and we had some good battles in there as well."

In the Oceania women's draw, Australia regained the regional title from New Zealand with a 14-10 triumph.

Papua New Guinea were outclassed 33-5 by Fiji in the playoff for third place but the Palais still finished as the top non core team under new coach Paul Tietjens and will compete at the Sydney and Hong Kong World Series events for the second year running.