SPORTS

Fijians Triumph

What happened: The Vodafone Flying Fijians overcame Ikale Tahi Tonga in a thrilling encounter to win the opening match of the 2015 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup in Suva yesterday.
19 Jul 2015 09:59
Fijians Triumph
Taniela Moa on the attack against the Vodafone Flying Fijians during the opening round of the 2015 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup at ANZ Stadium in Suva yesterday. Photo: Jona Konataci

What happened:

The Vodafone Flying Fijians overcame Ikale Tahi Tonga in a thrilling encounter to win the opening match of the 2015 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup in Suva yesterday.

The Tongans went straight in with the opening try courtesy of wing Fetu’u Vainikolo in the 7th minute. First five–eighth Latiume Fosita missed the conversion.

After a shaky start, Ben Volavola brought the home side onto the scoreboard as he redeemed himself from a previously missed penalty with a successful follow-up in the 24th minute, 3-5 in Tonga’s favour.

Tonga responded as they were awarded a penalty which was delivered successfully by fullback Vunga Lilo, 8-3.

Levani Botia thrilled the crowd as he smashed through the Tongan forward pack to swiftly off-load to wing Waisea Nayacalevu, setting up smoothly for scrumhalf Henry Seniloli to score in the 38th minute.

Volavola’s successful conversion gave Fiji a narrow 10-8 lead.

Halftime: Vodafone Flying Fijians 10-8 Ikale Tahi Tonga

Tonga scored first once again in the second spell as wing Telusa Veainu evaded the defence in the 48th minute, Lilo’s conversion taking the Tongans ahead 15-10.

Fiji struck back as they were awarded two penalties over the next seven minutes with Volavola easily kicking them through to once again give Fiji the narrow lead 16-15.

Tane Takulua came off the bench and straight over the try line right under the post in the 62nd minute, fellow replacement Kurt Morath’s smooth conversion taking the Friendly Islanders into the lead 22-16.

Fijian dynamo Nikola Matawalu came off the bench to set up what would have been a sensational try in the 65th minute had it not been ruled out by the linesman. But the territory he gained eventually set up Nayacalevu for try a minute later, Volavola’s conversion taking the score up 23-22.

Replacement Peni Ravai sealed the victory with a runaway try in the 74 minute followed by Volavola’s conversion, the game ending 30-22.

Comments:

Vodafone Flying Fijians captain Vereniki Goneva: “We knew Tonga was going to come hard but I thank the boys for the hard work.

“Tonga came on hard for a battle in the forwards with a lot of turnovers so that we didn’t get much ball in the first-half but we were able to regroup. Definitely it was an honour and privilege for me to lead Fiji to a win my first as captain.”

Ikale Tahi Tonga captain Nili Latu: “It was hard coming up against Fiji and we let them get away. We came up with a plan to win but Fiji held their own in the last minute when it counts. So we got to go away and look forward to the next game.

“We wanted to be physical and we led in the first 20 minutes but discipline let us down.”

Feedback: eroni.tuinaceva@fijisun.com.fj

 

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