Flying Fijians beat Samoa 36-18
10 July, 2011
Pacific Nations Cup – Round 2 Saturday, 9 July 2011
National Stadium, Suva
Fiji 36 (17)
Tries: Vereniki Goneva, Campese Ma’afu, Ravai Fatiaki, Taniela Rawaqa, Sekonaia Kalou Con: Nicky Little (2) Waisea Luveniyali, Taniela Rawaqa Pen: Nicky Little Samoa 18 (11)
Tries: Sailosi Tagicakibau, Timoteo Iosua Con: James So’oialo Pen: Tasesa Lavea, James So’oialo Referee: Marius Jonker
Kick Off: 3:10 PM
Conditions: Sunny and breezy
|Ravai Fatiaki scores for Fiji. Photo - Bruce Southwick- Oceaniarugby.com |
A young Flying Fijians side put on a brave performance this afternoon at the National Stadium in Suva to stun an experienced Manu Samoa team 36-18 and in the process keep alive their chances of a first ever Pacific Nations Cup title.
Still smarting from their round one PNC defeat to Tonga the previous Saturday the pressure had been mounting all week upon head coach Samu Domoni and his charges to come up with an improved performance and the response was in the end emphatic , as Fiji outscored their visitors five tries to two.
Fiji’s performance particularly significant considering seven local based players started for the hosts compared to only one for Samoa – an indication of the hard work being put in by Domoni and the FRU’s high performance unit to lift the standard and skill levels of Fiji’s top local players.
However it was to be one of Fiji’s overseas-based stars that gave them the early advantage when, on eight minutes, hard working winger Vereniki Goleva scooped up a loose Samoan ball near his own goal line and had both the pace and power to score a length of the field try despite the best efforts of Manawatu-based Johnny Leota who, covering across in defense, caught the muscular winger on the line.
From the touchline veteran flyhalf Nicky Little made no mistake with the conversion.
Samoa responded with two penalties to Clermont based flyhalf Tasese Lavea and fullback James So’oialo – the younger brother of former All Black captain Rodney So’oialo - before Little got one back.
While Samoa dominated the early exchanges they still lagged behind on the scoreboard, but on 23 minutes this all changed. A miscued up and under from Lavea in midfield was wonderfully retrieved by Sailosi Tagicakibau who just had the pace to outsprint the covering Fiji defense and score in the corner. Interestingly Tagicakibau’s younger brother, Michael, represents Fiji on the wing.
Lavea’s conversion was missed but Samoa held the lead for the first time in the game albeit by a mere point, 11-10.
It was a lead Samoa looked to be taking into the break until Fiji’s forwards mounted a vigorous and sustained assault upon the Samoan goal line with the tireless Campese Ma’afu going over on the stoke of halftime.
With a number of fans following proceedings online, via Fiji Rugby’s Facebook and Twitter sites, the scores by Tagicakibau and Ma’afu, respectively, elicited the following comment from one Twitter fan: “The Fijian scores for Samoa and the Tongan for Fiji…”
A second sideline conversion from Little gave Fiji a six point buffer into the break and it was a lead Fiji were never to relinquish again.
As in the first half it was the impressive Goneva who once again instigated proceedings as possession was won from the line-out on halfway and the ball whipped through the backline and into the hands of the former Digicel Fiji 7s captain. Goneva then weaved and muscled his way through a wilting Samoan defense to offload to Ravai Fatiaki whose momentum carried him over.
While Fiji began to stamp their authority upon the game Samoa were by no means out of it and Fiji needed resolute defense from Ilikena Bolakoro in the 68th minute as he put body on the line in a try saving tackle to keep out Ezra Taylor.
It proved to be the defining moment of the game as from the ensuing play fullback Taniela Rawaqa sniffed out the intercept as Samoa desperately flung the ball out wide, in an attempt to get back into the game. From within his own 22 Rawaqa ran untouched the length of the field to touch down under the posts.
Replacement Waisea Luveniyali converted to put Fiji out of sight 29-11 with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Samoa did claim a second try on 74 minutes when Timoteo Iosua found space in midfield to run unchallenged under the posts, however there was to be no close finish to this contest as Sekonaia Kalou produced an impressive solo feat of running rugby, straight from the Flying Fijians playing manual, to score under the posts and seal victory for Fiji.
To stand any chance of claiming the PNC trophy next Wednesday Fiji must clam a bonus point victory over Japan and hope a weakened Samoa team, many of whose top players will already be in Brisbane preparing for the Wallabies Test, beat a resurgent Tonga.
Meanwhile, where in the world is Welsh coach Warren Gatland? It seems Gatland may have thrown the Welsh media a curve ball with no sign of him at the National Stadium in Suva for the Samoa-Fiji PNC match, despite reports emanating from Wales he was heading to Fiji earlier in the week to watch the game. Latest rumours have the Welsh coach heading for Brisbane for the Australia-Samoa Test. Samoa
1.SIMON LEMALU, 2.MAHONRI SCHWALGER (C), 3.LOGOVII MULIPOLA, 4.FILIPO LEVI, 5.DANIEL LEO, 6.GEORGE STOWERS, 7.MAURIE FA’ASAVALU, 8.TAIASINA TUIFU’A, 9.UALE MAI, 10.TASESA LAVEA, 11.DAVID LEMI, 12.ELIOTA SAPOLU, 13.JOHNNY LEOTA, 14.SAILOSI TAGICAKIBAU, 15.JAMES SO’OIALO Reserves 16.TI’I PAULO, 17.ANTHONY PERENISE, 18.EZRA TAYLOR, 19.OFISA TREVIRANUS,
20.LUALUA VAILOALOA, 21.TUSI PISI, 22.TIMOTEO IOSUA
1.CAMPESE MA’AFU, 2.TUAPATI TALEMAITOGA, 3.DEACON MANU (C), 4.SEKONAIA KALOU, 5.LEONE NAKARAWA, 6.RUPENI NASIGA, 7.MALAKAI RAVULO, 8.SAKIUSA MATADIGO, 9.NEMIA SERELEVU, 10.NICKY LITTLE, 11.VERENIKI GONEVA, 12.RAVAI FATIAKI, 13.ALBERT VULIVULI, 14.ILIKENA BOLAKORO, 15.TANIELA RAWAQA Reserves 16.VILIAME VEIKOSO, 17.PENIJAMINI MAKUTU, 18.JOSEFA DOMOLAILAI, 19.MAKALAI VOLAU, 20.VITORI BUATAVA, 21.WAISEA LUVENIYALI, 22.ADRIU DELAI