Fiji Warriors have one hand on the World Rugby Pacific Challenge trophy after beating Junior Japan 39-16 to remain unbeaten after two rounds of the 2017 competition on home soil in Suva.
The defending champions have a maximum 10 points after two bonus point wins and will conclude their campaign against Samoa A on Saturday.
Tonga A lie second in the standings on five points, on points difference from Junior Japan, after emerging the 30-22 winners over Samoa A in Tuesday’s other match at the ANZ Stadium.
FIJI WARRIORS 39-16 JUNIOR JAPAN
The two unbeaten sides from round one came together in the Fijian capital and it was Junior Japan who took the lead with a second-minute penalty from scrum-half Naoto Saito.
Jonetani Ralulu quickly cancelled out that penalty to draw the Warriors level, but number eight Tevita Tatafu – who had scored a hat-trick in Junior Japan’s win over Samoa A in round one – restored the lead with the first try of the match.
Three tries in a blistering eight-minute spell from Fiji Warriors, though, turned the match in their favour to the delight of the home crowd with winger Apete Daveta, Ralulu (pictured) and hooker Samuela Suguturaga all touching down.
Fly-half Ralulu converted all three to make it 24-10 in the Warriors’ favour before two Saito penalties cut the deficit the eight points at half-time.
Fiji Warriors increased that cushion when flanker Jiuta Takubu scored the bonus-point try in the 52nd minute and the score remaining at 31-16 until Serupepeli Vularika kicked a penalty for the home side.
There was still time for one more try with replacement Cyril Reece dotting down in the dying minutes to leave the Warriors within touching distance of a successful defence of the Pacific Challenge.
Fiji coach Senirusi Seruvakula, though, knows there is plenty to work on ahead of their final match with Samoa A.
“It was a tough game. We had looked at their matches and they love to play a very fast game, but we came out here and we did not have a good start,” said Seruvakula.
“We lifted after 20 minutes and the main concern was our focus and our lack of discipline. We were giving away a lot of penalties and we can’t do that in our last game against Samoa. We worked on our mistakes after the Tonga match and we are still doing the same thing so we need to work on that before we meet Samoa.
(Source: World Rugby News)
Photos: Kitione Rokomanu / Zoomfiji