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Back to work, weak Wales next

  It was back to hard work for the Vodafone Fijian Bati side yesterday. The Fijians are already being talked up as Rugby League World Cup dark horses but the
31 Oct 2017 10:56
Back to work, weak Wales next
BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS: Vodafone Fijian Bati players (facing camera) Jacob Saifiti, Akuila Uate and Tui Kamikamica after their training run in Townsville, Australia, on October 30, 2017. Photo: William Tabuya of Vodafone Fiji.

 

It was back to hard work for the Vodafone Fijian Bati side yesterday.

The Fijians are already being talked up as Rugby League World Cup dark horses but the Bati are determined to quash any notion they will roll through Wales on Sunday.

The Bati ran riot for much of last Saturday night’s World Cup clash against USA, scoring 11 tries to two in a David v Goliath battle that unfolded exactly the way pundits expected, with them winning 58-12. Wales started their World Cup with a 50-6 loss to PNG in Port Moresby.

 

FAR FROM PERFECT

Fiji were far from perfect, as coach Mick Potter conceded after full-time, but they still showed enough to demonstrate why the big three of Australia, New Zealand and England are treating them with due respect.

Especially impressive was the decision making of their attack and the brute force of their pack, which allowed Fiji to roll up the field, while their defence was just as formidable.

Suli Vunivalu, Taane Milne and captain Kevin Naiqama scored doubles for Fiji, who raced to a 38-6 halftime lead before easing back on the throttle in the second half to score four more tries before full-time.

Try as hard as they might, the Hawks struggled to match the NRL polish that makes Fiji a genuine World Cup threat.

 

QUIET NIGHT

Even a relatively quiet night from Jarryd Hayne, who scored early in the second half thanks to a bust up the middle by Akuila Uate, could not stop the Bati, who have made the semi-finals of the past two World Cups.

“Obviously we want to win the World Cup but we’re not looking past next week,” Naiqama told Townsville Bulletin.

“It was back to hard work today. We came out and gave respect to the USA, we knew they were going to be a tough side and we wanted to start fast, that was our main focus all week.

“The boys did really well for our first game, but in saying that there’s a lot of things we can work on.”

USA captain Mark Offerdahl believes Fiji are primed to go even better than the past two World Cups.

“They’re a lot better drilled … hopefully they can go through to the semi’s again and give it a real run.”

BIG LOSS

Kane Evans will be a big loss for Fiji, but teammate and front row enforcer Ashton Sims says the Bati will keep moving forward with their tournament, which continues on Sunday against Wales.

“I know Wales had a bit of a rough time but I know a lot of their players from the Super League, and they got a good solid team,” Sims said.

“We’ve relaxed and now we have started out hard work.”

Edited by Grace Narayan

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