SPORTS

Paula Dranisinikula: We Gave Our All

Some strong defensive play combined with a scintillating attack, helped Fiji win their 30th Hong Kong 7s matching-a-row and set-up a final showdown with France.
08 Apr 2019 14:00
Paula Dranisinikula: We Gave Our All
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s wing Alasio Naduva on his way to score one of his two tries against USA at the Hong Kong Stadium on April 7,2019. Fiji won 28-19. Photo: Kitione Rokomanu/Zoom Fiji

Fiji Airways Fijian 7s captain Paula Dranisinukula praised his team’s attitude in the Cup semi-final’s 28-19 win against USA in the Hong Kong 7s last night.

Some strong defensive play combined with a scintillating attack, helped Fiji win their 30th Hong Kong 7s matching-a-row and set-up a final showdown with France.

In his post-match interview, Dranisinukula, who has been one of the standout performers in Hong Kong, said the team fought till the very end against the Americans.

“I told the boys this is your moment, this is your time, don’t let it go,” the 29-year-old soldier said.

“America is a tough team, a very tough team. But we knew, to play in the main event, we would have to fight very hard in the semi-final and that’s what the boys did– they gave it their all.”

The Navuniivi, Rakiraki, native said that playing in Hong Kong, in front of a boisterous Fijian crowd, has been a special moment.

The Fijians opened the scoring through Sevuloni Mocenacagi after winger Aminiasi Tuimaba showed good strength and awareness to release the robust forward.

With Livai Ikanikoda’s successful conversion, Fiji led 7-0.

Fiji’s aggression at ruck time was hugely impressive and proved a handful for the Americans.

USA’s most dangerous attacking weapon, Carlin Isles, responded with his 7th try of the tournament to level the scores.

Hard working rover Vilimoni Botitu, who was a defensive stalwart throughout the match, replied with a try on the cusp of half-time to restore Fiji’s lead.

He was set-up by Meli Derenalagi, whose share price continues to rise after a string of consistently high-level performances in Hong Kong.

The teams went into the break with Fiji leading 14-7.

At half-time, coach Gareth Baber told the team to maintain their defensive solidity and not to miss one- on-one tackles.

Alasio Naduva added to Fiji’s lead shortly after coming on after Seremaia Tuwai drew two tackles to create space for the explosive winger.

Kevon Williams hit back for the Americans, deceiving Tuwai and Ikanikoda with a zig zag run to cross over and give the USA fans some hope.

But Naduva’s second try of the match – third in Hong Kong – secured Fiji a place in the final for the fifth year running, even though Isles reduced the deficit with a late try.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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