Master's magic

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu | Thursday, January 25, 2018
The 2000 Brisbane 7s final held between Fiji and Australia remains one of the best finals ever played in Australia. With time ticking away and seconds looming, the hosts looked set to win their first cup win in the series, which was dominated by Fiji and NZ. Prior to the Brisbane 7s, Fiji had won the Stellenbosch, Mar del Plata and Wellington 7s against NZ. Fiji was runner-up to the All Blacks in Dubai, Punta del Este 7s and in Suva. Those days Fiji and NZ battled each other for a place in the cup final. Heading to Brisbane Fiji boasted big names in Delasau, Bill and Apo Satala, Fero, Seta, Naiteqe, Tuikabe and the late Kaumaia.

The 1999-2000 IRB 7s series recorded Fiji's best outing to date as we won five out of the 10 tournaments. Coached and managed by Veidreyaki and the late Master Lagiloa, Fiji was in devastating form. In pool play Fiji thrashed Cook Islands 40-7, kept Uruguay scoreless 49-0 and battered Argentina 38-14.

In the quarters France received a hiding 47-7 and then the Boks were skinned 45-7 in the semis. It was Fiji vs Australia. Australia made an electrifying start as Joe Roff broke feeble tackles to dot underneath the posts. Minutes later Bill leveled scores with a powerful surge while Delasau broke Aussie hearts on the stroke of half-time with a sizzling run to the try line. Bill added another try to his tally as Fiji led 19-7.

However, the Aussies burned the reserves they had in their gas tank and tries to Graham and Miller put the Aussies ahead by two points despite the desperate and ferocious Fijian defence.

Then the magic happened and with 40 seconds to go the "Little master" wheeled his bit of magic and saved Fiji at the brink of defeat. The crowd was in mayhem. They stormed the ground, mobbed and worshipped their brilliant superstar. At the completion of the Brisbane 7s, Fiji amassed 128 points while NZ trailed Fiji by eight points. Sunday night had gone down in history books as our boys stunned Suncorp Stadium. Toso Viti!

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