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Players to train during Christmas, New Year after qualifying to World U20 Rugby Trophy   The Vodafone Fijian Under-20 side have qualified for the 2017 World U20 Rugby Trophy in
11 Dec 2016 11:54
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Vodafone Fijian Under-20 players celebrate the win at the ANZ Stadium, Suva, yesterday. Photo: Jone Luvenitoga

Players to train during Christmas, New Year after qualifying to World U20 Rugby Trophy

 

The Vodafone Fijian Under-20 side have qualified for the 2017 World U20 Rugby Trophy in Georgia after edging out Tonga 18-13 at the ANZ Stadium in Suva yesterday.

The Baby Flying Fijians got off to a good start with an early try to centre Filimoni Savou as they held a slender 5-0 lead.

Then minutes later nippy first five eight and vice-captain John Manu sliced his way past the Tongan defenders to score the second try, which he converted to extend their lead to 12-0. However, the Tongans replied with a try to captain Sione Va’eno, which was converted as they narrowed the deficit to 12-7.

It was a kicking game in the second spell as both teams utilised their kickers to gain territory.

The Tongans U20 tried to catch-up after Talesio Oneone successfully converted two penalties but Fiji’s lead in the game was further extended with two penalties from Manu to leave the final score at 18-13.

Fijian U20 head coach Salimoni Ravouvou said that now the team have qualified there would be no Christmas or New Year break for the players.

“We will rest for a week before we resume our training on December 19. So there will be no Christmas or New Year for these young boys,” Ravouvou said.

“We need to take things seriously and by doing that we need to prepare early because this is a huge achievement  for the boys and I want them to do well and to make this qualification mean something.

“We are very happy that we have qualified and very humbled as well to win the game today, we couldn’t have done it without the tremendous support from the Fiji Rugby Union, the teachers and parents who brought the boys up and just everyone who had supported us.

“This win means a lot to Fiji Rugby, especially the Under-20 going against Cook Islands and Tonga were not easy.

“This win is for the nation as a whole. I am proud of what the boys did in the one month they were together.”

Ravouvou was happy that the players played disciplined rugby and stuck to their game plan as they held on in the dying minutes to clinch the win.

Tonga U20 coach Tuivaita Ueleni said mistakes cost them the game but judging from how close the score line, he believes they have what it takes to beat Fiji.

“We made a lot of mistakes which Fiji capitalised on, especially in the first half where we gave away those soft tries,” Ueleni said.

“The rain played a factor in it as well, I don’t know whether it helped us or Fiji but yes Fiji qualified and we need to wait for another qualification.

“I want to congratulate Fiji for winning today and I hope they get to move up to the top so Tonga would get another spot. I still believe that we can beat Fiji.”

The Fijians have qualified for the 2017 World Rugby Trophy and the 2017 Oceania Rugby Under-20 Championship joining Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

justine.mannan@fijisun.com.fj

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