Flying Fijians Absorb Pressure To Win

Strong defence and making use of their opportunities were the hallmark of the Vodafone Flying Fijians side as they beat Tonga 14-10 in front of their fans at Teufaiva Stadium
09 Jul 2017 11:00
Flying Fijians Absorb Pressure To Win
Vodafone Flying Fijians halfback Serupepeli Vularika looks at his options during scrum time against Tonga at the Teufaiva Stadium in Nuku’alofa on July 8, 2017. Photo: Atama Tamanilo

Strong defence and making use of their opportunities were the hallmark of the Vodafone Flying Fijians side as they beat Tonga 14-10 in front of their fans at Teufaiva Stadium in Nuku’alofa yesterday.

The win now means the John McKee-coached side has qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan as Oceania’s No. 1.

What happened: The hosts started strongly using their big forwards as they took the game to the Flying Fijians. The visitors opted to run the ball with the forwards doing the hard yards upfront.

The Flying Fijians drew first blood when the Tongans were penalised for an infringement in the ruck and first five eight Ben Volavola kicked for the 3-0 lead.

The Tongans had the upper hand with captain, Siale Piutau and flanker Jack Ram leading the charge as they camped close to the Fiji’s try line. All their efforts were in vain as they were pressured into mistakes by the Fijian defence.

However, the Tongans drew level 3-3 from a Latiume Fosita penalty in the 21st minute.

It was all Tonga with halfback Sonatale Takulua leading the charge and was time and again being hassled by Serupepeli Vularika. A strong run by Piutau into the Fijian territory saw him cop a Jale Vatubua tackle which resulted in him losing the ball forward.

Halftime: Tonga 3-3 Fiji

Tonga continued on the momentum in the second half and scored their first try in the 46th minute through Chiefs prop Siegfreid Fisi’ihoi which was converted by Fosita for a 10-3 lead.

The Tongans joy was short-lived when fullback, Timoci Nagusa set-up lock Leone Nakarawa to go over for a try which Volavola failed to convert as they trail 10-8.

The Fijians fought on and in the 65th minute the Flying Fijians regained the lead 11-10 through a Volavola penalty and again in the 72nd he extended the lead to 14-10 with his third penalty.

Big play: The Flying Fijians defence stood tall after being under pressure for most part of the game.

Comment: Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer John O’Connor said: “A big thank you to the players. It was a tough match and they handled the pressure before coming back to finish at the top.”

Line-up: Fiji: Campese Ma’afu, Sunia Koto (Talemaitoga Tuapati), Manasa Saulo, Tevita Cavubati (Api Ratuniyarawa), Leone Nakarawa, Dominiko Waqaniburotu (Vili Mata), Akapusi Qera ©, Nemani Nagusa, Serupepeli Vularika (Henry Seniloli), Ben Volavola, Patrick Osborne, Jale Vatubua, Asaeli Tikoirotuma (Vereniki Goneva), Josua Tuisova (Benito Masilevu), Timoci Nagusa.

Tonga: Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Paula Ngauamo, Siua Halanukonuka, Leva Fifita, Sitiveni Mafi, Dan Faleafa, Jack Ram, Valentino Mapapalangi, Sonatale Takulua, Latiume Fosita, Cooper Vuna, Tavita Taufui, Siale Piutau ©, David Halaifonua, ‘Atieli Pakalani.

Ground: Fine

Crowd: 10,000

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua




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