Opinion

EDITORIAL: Future Looks Bright Despite Bati’s Big Loss In RLWC Semis

Vodafone Fijian Bati team were off song in the semifinal of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday night. But their voices and actions
26 Nov 2017 09:51
EDITORIAL: Future Looks Bright Despite Bati’s Big Loss In RLWC Semis

Vodafone Fijian Bati team were off song in the semifinal of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday night.

But their voices and actions can be heard far and wide in the rugby league world after another good showing at the four-yearly event.

Playing in our third semifinal at the RLWC for three years in a row is a good sign of progress that we should all be proud of.

2017 RLWC should go down as the best showing so far.

Despite the high expectations from Fijians here and abroad, the 54-6 thumping clearly shows that no matter how hard we try, we will come out second best.

It’s unfortunate therefore that we can only gauge our performance against top rugby league nations after four years.

We played Australia three times in the last 10 years and it was all during the RLWC.

We lost 52-0 in 2008, 64-0 in 2013 and 54-6 in 2017.

We met New Zealand for the first time in the quarter-final in Wellington two weeks ago and the 4-2 victory should go down as one of our memorable wins.

Therefore we don’t have to look far to gauge our standard. Our Trans-Tasman neighbours will tell us.

We need to have more competition with the Kiwis and Kangaroos to raise our standard otherwise the trend will continue and we will always come out second best.

Despite good wins against USA, Wales, Italy and New Zealand, the Bati were thundered back to earth at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.

The Kangaroos produced their best display of the tournament, playing wonderful, free-flowing rugby league against the Bati.

Ill discipline proved costly for our men giving away too many penalties early and allowing the Kangaroos to get away.

It took only a minute for passion to get the better of both sides, with a Jarryd Hayne shoulder charge on Billy Slater sparking an all-in melee during just the second set of the match. Hayne, who has represented the Kangaroos on 11 occasions, did not miss his former Australian teammate, flattening the star fullback with a bone-crunching hit that the Kangaroos did not appreciate. This was one of two penalties Hayne gave away in the opening 10 minutes which helped the Kangaroos gained territory resulting in Slater scoring the first try in the 14th minute.

Suliasi Vunivalu, 21,  despite scoring a try had a shocker performance defending his line.

The first try was arguably the worst for the young Fijian as he rushed in, slipping over in the middle of the play to leave three Kangaroos unmarked.

He was exposed by a well-drilled opposition and he must learn from it if he is to compete with the best at the international level.

Coach Mick Potter said: “The game just ran away from us. The boys just tried their hardest, and that’s all you can ask for. I think we just gave away a couple of stupid penalties.”

Team captain Kevin Naiqama was rightly proud of his side and called for more games against the bigger nations.

Naiqama said: “It’s a great campaign for us, making the semi-finals three [World Cups] in a row. The only way we’re going to get better is being challenged by the bigger teams.”

But for now we should be thankful to Potter, Naiqama and all the Bati for representing our island nation with pride. We definitely can look forward to a better, brighter future.    

Feedback:  oseab@fijisun.com.fj



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