Wellington - Frank Halai scored two first-half tries as New Zealand overwhelmed Fii 24-7 on Saturday to win the New Zealand leg of the World Sevens Series for the second straight year.
Halai touched down twice within two minutes as New Zealand scored four tries to race to a 24-0 half-time lead. Their defence and kicking game then held out Fiji in wet and slippery conditions in the second half to clinch their sixth win in 13 years in their home tournament and to give them the outright lead after six of eight tournaments on this year's world circuit.
The next tournament of the International Rugby Board series is in Las Vegas from February 10 to 12.
New Zealand captain DJ Forbes opened the scoring in the final with a try after five minutes, before being forced from the field with a deep gash under his left eye. Veteran playmaker Tomasi Cama converted to pass 1 400 points in World Series matches.
Halai scored his first try with three minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the half, breaking down the right touch after New Zealand had forced a turnover. He then turned up on the left touch less than two minutes later to take a long pass from Cama and to beat the Fijian defence for a second time.
Cama scored his own try with time up in the half to extend his career points tally to ,408 points with the conversion and give New Zealand a commanding halftime lead.
New Zealand then managed to shut down Fiji's dangerous runners in the second half to maintain their advantage. Fiji finally broke the deadlock with 49 seconds remaining in the match to score through Waisea Nayacelevu who was playing in his first World Series tournament.
New Zealand had earlier rallied from 12-0 down to beat England 17-12 in a semi-final which went to extra time. Halai was again the try-scorer as New Zealand took the match in sudden death overtime.
"To come back from such a deficit in the semi-final showed real character and obviously you only get the rewards for hard training and slog," Forbes said. "In the final I think we showed what we're all about. We knew we had to start well because if you can get away to a good start against Fiji their heads tend to go down a bit and we managed to do that today."
Fiji overcame a loss to Tonga in pool play on Friday, which saw them qualify second from their group, to beat South Africa 21-5 in Saturday's quarter-finals and Samoa 28-5 in the semis. New Zealand beat France 22-7 in their quarter-final before their hard-fought semi-final against England.
England went on to beat Samoa 21-12 in the playoff for third and fourth.
South Africa won the plate, Kenya won the bowl and Scotland won the shield.
Results on Saturday from the New Zealand Sevens, fourth leg of the International Rugby Board World Series:
New Zealand 22, France 7
England 26, Tonga 7
Samoa 15, Canada 12
Fiji 21, South Africa 5
New Zealand 17, England 12 (Extra-time))
Fiji 28, Samoa 5
Playoff for third
England 21, Samoa 12
New Zealand 24, Fiji 7
Tonga 15, France 7
South Africa 21, Canada 19
South Africa 24, Tonga 0
Kenya 14, Scotland 5
Wales 10, United States 0
Australia 33, Japan 5
Argentina 28, Cook Islands 0
Kenya 17, Wales 7
Australia 24, Argentina 12
Kenya 12, Australia 7
Scotland 14, United States 12
Cook Islands 17, Japan 10
Scotland 19, Cook Islands 17
Standings after four of eight rounds:
New Zealand 73 points, Fiji 70, England 64, South Africa 61, France 49, Samoa 47, Australia 45, Wales 41, Argentina 33, Scotland 26.