Warriors continue winning ways in PRC
24 February, 2011
The Air Pacific Fiji Warriors are the only side in the Australia Series of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2011 with a 100 percent record after edging the Junior Waratahs 15-12 on match day two following the QAS Reds Academy's 23-20 loss to Samoa A and the Brumby Runners 22-22 draw with Tonga A.
The Australia Series draws to a climax on Monday when Fiji Warriors face the Brumby Runners in Canberra, the QAS Reds Academy tackle Tonga A at Ballymore and the Junior Waratahs meet Samoa A.
The IRB Pacific Rugby Cup then continues with a New Zealand Series involving a Hurricanes Development XV, Chiefs Development XV and the Crusader Knights, before climaxing with a Pacific Island Series in Fiji to determine the 2011 champions. Brumby Runners 22-22 Tonga A
Tonga A bounced back from the disappointment of their opening loss to the Junior Waratahs to battle back to earn a 22-22 draw with the Brumby Runners at Vikings Park in Canberra.
In front of a vocal crowd with strong representation from Canberra’s Tongan community, the visitors’ forwards put in an impressive second half performance to twice claw back a deficit.
First half tries by captain Nick White and Australian Sevens representative Henry Vanderglass set a solid platform for the Brumby Runners, whose wide and fast running game was troubling the young Tongan backline.
In fact a try right on half time by Tonga A wing Ratu Maafu, from a turnover in the Brumby Runners’ 22, was one of their few excursions into the attacking quarter. Nonetheless they went in trailing only 12-8.
The game plan for Tonga A changed noticeably in the second half with their forward pack asserting their authority in a tight, physical contest, but it was a try for Brumby Runners wing Vili Longi that stung the visitors into action.
The Tongan pack kept the ball tight with a disciplined pick and go structure that saw them dominate both territory and possession, with second row Taumei Hikila’s try the reward for their efforts.
Hikila’s try cut the deficit to 17-15, but whenever the Brumby Runners backline could get the ball they looked dangerous and they reasserted their advantage with a fourth try of the night through replacement Rory Walton with 15 minutes remaining.
The Tongans, though, weren’t finished and set up a thrilling finale after wing Mateo Malupo touched won in the corner, allowing Edmond Paea to tie the scores with the conversion. They could have snatched the win had fly half Paea not missed two penalty attempts, but national coach Isitolo Maka could still see the positives from the match.
“I’m happy. They (Brumby Runners) fielded a very good team and I am pleased with how my forwards played in the second half in particular,” said Maka. “We blew some chances to win the game but we will improve a lot from that match.” QAS Reds Academy 20-23 Samoa A
A healthy local Samoan crowd was on hand to watch their A team do battle with the QAS Reds Academy in a spirited and bruising match at Ballymore, and were given cause to celebrate as the visitors ran out 23-20 winners.
Samoa A made a somewhat unsettled start, taken aback by a very enthusiastic QAS Reds Academy side who pinned their opponents in their own half for the first 10 minutes and choked any momentum they tried to gather.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead thanks to two penalties from captain Roger Warren, and it wasn’t until the 31st minute that the hosts got on the scoreboard with wing Kimami Situati’s try.
Both sides would have been happy to enter the changing rooms after a half of fast-paced rugby and punishing tackles, but it was the QAS Reds Academy who enjoyed the slender lead following Jono Lance’s late penalty.
Samoa A came out firing in the second half and immediately camped in the QAS Reds Academy 22, determined to deprive their hosts of possession, while applying pressure at the breakdown and set pieces in the hope of forcing a mistake.
It wasn’t long before the Samoans were rewarded for their efforts with flanker Iosefa Timusa touching down and Warren adding the conversion and a subsequent penalty to push them out to 16-8.
With their tails in the air, Samoa A continued to apply pressure at the breakdown, denying the hosts any rhythm to create a platform to break their opponent’s line.
Instead it was the visitors who seized upon a turnover opportunity, launching an attack out wide across the QAS Reds Academy 10-metre line for Fautua Otto to bedazzle his opponents, and the crowd, to slip through under the posts untouched.
Warren’s conversion made it 23-8, but QAS Reds Academy were not to be outdone or outshone and came charging back with tries from Mitchell Felsman and Dominic Shipperley, the latter a classy chip, chase and regather.
QAS Reds Academy ultimately ran out of time to complete the comeback, leaving the Samoans to celebrate their first victory of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2011, having gone down 29-13 to the Brumby Runners on day one.
“I am happy with the win and the improvement from the first match, but improvement is still needed at the set piece and general game management if we are to be successful,” admitted Samoa A coach Selefuti Patu. Junior Waratahs 12-15 Fiji Warriors
The Fiji Warriors posted their second win of the 2011 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup with a 15-12 victory over the HSBC Junior Waratahs in a tight match at St Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday.
The Junior Tahs opened the scoring in the 15th minute in the wake of a torrid initial stanza which saw the possession and territory evenly shared. A strong attacking NSW scrum on the Fijians 22m line saw the ball quickly placed in the hands of strong finisher, John Grant, who skipped over for a five-pointer which was converted by Ben Batger.
Fiji constantly tested the Junior Tahs’ defence with sniping runs but the home side held firm, aided by numerous penalties at the breakdown which disrupted the Warriors rhythm. It was not until the 36th minute, and only after sustained pressure, that one of Fiji’s probing runs bore fruit with a converted try to winger, Isoa Coalala.
The HSBC Junior Waratahs looked to immediately strike back with strong running fullback Jacob Woodhouse linking with flyer Greg Jeloudev who went agonisingly close to scoring. With Fiji holding out attack after attack on their tryline, eventually Warriors flanker, Malakai Volau, fell victim to his over enthusiasm and was yellow carded right on half time.
The resultant penalty and numbers advantage enabled No.8 Talalelei Gray to barge over from the quick tap to put the home side ahead at the break, 12-7.
Fiji started the second forty a man down but the second half started at the same pace as the first with both sides using every opportunity to attack. Fiji flung the ball from wing to wing, constantly probing for a gap. The HSBC Junior Waratahs, too, ran with the ball again and again, with Greg Jeloudev once again denied a try by inches, after some great cover defence from the Fijians.
Attacking from within their own half, Fiji eventually scored an unconverted try when fullback Adriu Delai crossed for the equaliser in the 54th minute. This was quickly followed by a penalty from flyhalf Taniela Maravunawasawasa, putting the Islanders ahead for the first time.
With crucial NSW turnovers thwarting a number of scoring opportunities, and Fiji missing two further shots for penalty, the scoreboard stubbornly refused to tick over. The match was well into injury time when the HSBC Junior Waratahs made one last ditch attempt to wrest the game, with John Grant starting an ambitious attack from well within his own 22 and linking with prop Paddy Ryan, who was eventually stopped by the ever-effective Fiji cover.
The final Australian conference matches of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup will be played on Monday 28 February. The Fiji Warriors take on the Brumby Runners at Vikings Park, Canberra at 6.30pm while the HSBC Junior Waratahs meet Samoa A at St Mary's Stadium, Mt Druitt at 5.30pm.
Fiji Warriors 15 (Isoa Coalala, Adriu Delai tries; Taniela Maravunawasawasa con, pen) d HSBC Junior Waratahs 12 (John Grant, Talalelei Gray tries; Ben Batger con) at St Marys Stadium, Sydney. Half-time: HSBC Junior Waratahs 12-7. Yellow Card: Malakai Volau (Fiji Warriors), repeated infringements, 39th minute. Referee: Angus Gardner. Crowd: 300.
By the clock
15th – John Grant try; Ben Batger conversion. HSBC Junior Waratahs 7-0
36th – Isoa Coalala try; Taniela Maravunawasawasa conversion. 7-all
39th – Yellow Card: Malakai Volau, repeated infringements at breakdown
40th – Tala Gray try; Ben Batger missed conversion. HSBC Junior Waratahs 12-7
54th – Adriu Delai try; Taniela Maravunawasawasa missed conversion. 12-all
59th – Taniela Maravunawasawasa penalty goal. Fiji Warriors 15-12 Article courtesy of irb.com.