Fiji not only won a fourth Challenge Trophy in a row with their 27-10 win over England in the final but also secured their place as a core team on the 2020 series in the process, because if even China went on to win their seventh place play-off against Russia to finish on 21 points too, the Pacific Islanders’ points difference is better.
Celia Quansah scored the first of her two tries to open the scoring, but Fiji didn’t look back after tries from Akanisi Sokoiwasa, Ana Maria Roqica and Viniana Riwai put them 17-7 ahead at half-time.
Raijieli Daveua and Ana Maria Naimasi added tries to allow Fiji to finish the season on a positive note in a match that also saw England captain Claire Allan take to the field for the last time on the series.
Scotland were another team celebrating after beating Ireland 26-14 in the 11th place play-off to claim their first-ever series victory, a just reward for their performances over the weekend as the invitational team in Biarritz. Lisa Thomson’s try on the stroke of half-time edged Scotland into the lead for the second time after Megan Gaffney’s opening try and they would not relinquish it, Rhona Lloyd and captain Helen Nelson adding second-half tries to become the first invitational team to win a match on the 2019 series.
In the semi-finals, England bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on the quarter-finals with a 24-17 victory over England courtesy of tries by Deborah Fleming, Beth Wilcock, Heather Fisher and Quansah. Fiji then knew that victory was a must if they were to boost their chances of winning their relegation battle with China, and while they were pushed all the way by invitational team Scotland they ran out 31-10 winners with Daveua scoring a try in each half.