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Maori Pip Fijians

The Maori All Blacks came back strongly in the second half to deny the Vodafone Flying Fijians a winning start to their 2015 Rugby World Cup build-up yesterday . They
12 Jul 2015 10:59
Maori Pip Fijians

The Maori All Blacks came back strongly in the second half to deny the Vodafone Flying Fijians a winning start to their 2015 Rugby World Cup build-up yesterday .

They won  27-26 after the Flying Fijians led for most of the match.

Barely a minute after the dust had settled following a rousing simultaneous delivery of the cibi and the haka, fullback Kini Murimurivalu shot across the try line to put Fiji up on the scoreboard first 5-0.

Towering left wing Nemani Nadolo’s conversion attempt sailed short but he made up for it with a successful penalty in the 13th minute, extending Fiji’s lead 8-0.

The Maori finally struck back as they were awarded a penalty four minutes later kicked through by first five Marty McKenzie to bring them onto the scoreboard 3-8. Fiji pushed ahead 11-3 as Nadolo kicked yet another penalty in the 23rd minute.

Finally, the Maori were able to convert possession into a successful try as sevens crossover Rieko Ioane powered through the defence to deliver his debut try five minutes later, McKenzie’s conversion bringing them to 10-11.

Fiji dominated over the next 12 minutes as they earned another penalty kicked by Nadolo in the 31st minute, Nadolo following up with a try of his own four minutes later but unfortunately missing the conversion.

Skipper Akapusi Qera added to their tally just before the halftime whistle with fly half Josh Matavesi’s conversion giving Fiji a 26-10 lead at halftime.

Half-time: Vodafone Flying Fijians 26-10 Maori All Blacks

The tide turned in the second-half as the Maori All Blacks returned ready to uphold their 18 straight victories, McKenzie’s penalty in the 42nd minute bringing them up 13-26.

Younger brother and Chiefs teammate Damian McKenzie followed up with his debut try 10 minutes later which the first five happily converted, the scores moving up 20-26.

With 10 minutes to go, Super Rugby Final Man of the Match Elliot Dixon came straight off the bench to deliver the winning try with Otere Black’s conversion sealing the scores 27-26.

Comments:

Maori All Blacks head coach Colin Cooper, “The wind was a bit of factor in the first half. We couldn’t get into their 22 where the Fijian boys excelled really, really well. However in the second half, we managed to get some points to win the game.

“We were rusty and it showed. Just getting our team together for a week but it’s no excuse for professional players.

“They played to continue the legacy of Maori and New Zealand rugby. I thought they did their heritage proud and played with pride.

“It’s a really big step up from playing just provincial or Super Rugby. This is international rugby. This is in Fiji’s back yard so I’m proud of those nine debuting players.”

Vodafone Flying Fijians head coach John McKee, “Yes. So close yet so far. Firstly, a great performance in the first half.

“We played really well, stuck to our game plan and showed what dangerous players we have. We had the Maori under a lot of pressure.

“Second-half, they used the breezy conditions and the Maori played the field positions really well. We just had an inability to get out of our half and have enough ball.

“The New Zealand Maori today were a very good side.

“They played under pressure and they played the game tight in the second half.

“They played smart and they got the result they wanted,” he said.

Feedback:  eroni.tuinaceva@fijisun.com.fj

 

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