Fiji beat Tonga 27-12 in Punjas Series
13 August, 2011
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Churchill Park, Lautoka
Fiji 27 (21)
Tries: Vereniki Goneva, Rupeni Nasiga, Kini Murimurivalu Con: Seremaia Bai (3) Pen: Seremaia Bai (2) Tonga 12 (5)
Tries: Viliami Iongi (2) Con: Samisoni Fisilau Referee: Keith Brown (NZ)
Kick Off: 3:30 PM
Conditions: Warm and humid
Three first half tries and a powerful defensive effort from the Flying Fijians gave them a morale boosting 27-12 victory at Churchill Park this afternoon. It served as revenge of sorts after the 45-21 mauling Fiji received from their island neighbours during the Pacific Nations Cup last month.
|Fiji claim opening win in Punjas Series. |
Inspirational Nadi winger Vereniki Goneva opened the scoring in the third minute, and against the run of play, as a slippery ball was dropped by the Tongan backline in Fiji's 22m area. The loose ball was picked up and booted up field by fullback Kini Murimurivalu with Goneva on hand to gather the bouncing ball and claim a clear run under the Tongan posts.
Tonga took just seven minutes to respond through a well worked try to their find of the season, fullback Viliami Iongi, who finished off a slick backline move from an attacking Tongan line-out. It’s been a meteoric rise for the diminutive winger cum fullback who at the beginning of the season was struggling to make the Brumbies Development team but now is on the verge of making his Rugby World Cup debut.
To their credit Fiji kept their cool and discipline and led by a rampaging Sisa Koyamaibole, who steamrolled any Tongan who got in his way, were soon on the scoreboard again. This time it was Albert Vulivuli making the midfield bust before being dragged down short of the line. From the ensuing play Vitori Buatava found Rupeni Nasiga out wide who went over in the tackle of the Tongan defense.
Seremaia Bai converted from out wide to give Fiji a 14-5 lead.
It was a lead that was extended in the 35th minute when fullback Kini Murimurivalu ran through, and then around the Tongan defense, to score a good individual try. Bai’s third conversion gave Fiji a 21-5 halftime lead.
The Tongans got the possible start to the second half when Iongi claimed his second in the first minute of the restart. Samisoni Fisilau nailed the sideline conversion to give Tonga real hope as Fiji held a now tenuous 21-12 lead. But despite enjoying the advantage in both territory and possession, throughout the second period, the Tongans were unable to add any further points and two penalties from Bai eventually gave Fiji the win 27-12.
Fiji’s win means Tonga must now beat Fiji by 16 or more points to claim the Punjas Series.