Junior Japan were crowned the World Rugby Pacific Challenge champions after beating Swire Shipping Fijian Warriors 21-12 in a pulsating final at ANZ Stadium in Suva today.
Fijian Warriors were quick from start as Epeli Momo gave them an early 7 nil lead after a successful conversion from half-back Simione Kuruvoli.
Japan’s Yuichiro Wada converted a successful penalty and closed the gap to 7-3.
The visitors then found the rhythm and outclassed the Fijians in the scrums, line-out and even in ball retention.
After pressuring the Fijian Warriors, Junior Japan managed to cross the line for a try.
Wada kicked two successful penalties and helped Japan take a close 14-7 lead at the break.
It looked Fijian bounced back when skipper Tuidraki Samusamuvodre ran over for a try to narrow the point 14-12.
But then the Japanese replied with a converted try.
Fijian Warriors Head Coach Kele Leawere said “Full credit to the Japanese side, they came out firing and we had a lot to work.
We knew they have a good scrum and the players must have concentrated on that.”
Discipline was one of the areas which affect the Swire Shipping Fijian Warriors.
They were cut to 14 men three times in game when Epeli Momo, Joseva Nasaroa and Filimoni Savou received yellow cards.
“That was our keyword for today.
We had three yellow cards so that meant for 30 minutes we played with 14 players.
At the end of the day we need to have discipline which is one of the most important factors” said Leawere.
Fijian Warriors skipper Tuidraki Samusamuvodre said it hurts to lose in-front of the home crowd.
“That’s not what we wanted, the players gave their hearts out and great effort but it is what it is” said Samusamuvodre.