TOKYO: Fiji defended their Olympic rugby sevens title with an entertaining 27-12 victory over New Zealand at the Tokyo Stadium on Wednesday. The elated Fijians burst into a cappella hymns that boomed around the stadium to celebrate just the second ever Olympic medal for the nation of 890,000 people scattered around more than 330 Pacific islands. Fiji skipper Jerry Tuwai said there had been “a lot of expectation. Every Fijian wants only the win. It’s a good day for Fiji today. They won’t be thinking about the pandemic now, they’ll be celebrating the gold medal!” Fiji’s Welsh coach Gareth Baber hailed the “resilience of the group dealing with whatever has been thrown our way” after spending five months away from their families as coronavirus restrictions took hold throughout Oceania. “It’s been a really strange year, particularly the last six months,” Baber said. “We were locked down in Fiji, then we went to Australia where we were in quarantine. “It takes a special kind of person to make that commitment,” the former scrum-half said, joking that there had been almost daily references to the win in the Rio Olympics, when Fiji were coached by Englishman Ben Ryan. The Fijians, superbly marshalled by the omnipresent Tuwai, were quick to pile the pressure on New Zealand, a robust defence the cornerstone of their all-encompassing game. They took the lead when a smart offload after Maqala stripped Joe Webber of the ball found Meli Derenalagi, who stretched his large frame to cross in the corner. When an under-pressure Andrew Knewstubb failed to ground a tentative grubber over the Kiwi line, Maqala was on hand to pounce on the loose ball for a second try converted by Napolioni Bolaca. But Scott Curry, instrumental to New Zealand’s run to the final, showed a surprising turn of pace to run one back in for the men in black, who have 12 sevens world series titles to their name.