The Fiji Water Flying Fijians prove to be too strong for the Manu Samoa in front of a packed crowd in Apia, Samoa on Saturday. Fiji won 33 – 19.
Fiji imposed their strength and will right from the kick-off to build a 17-point lead just 17 minutes into the game.
Young hooker Tevita Ikanivere took a quick tap and powered over the Samoan defenders to score the first try. After a series of stand offs by the Fijian forwards, the ball was quickly spread to the Taveuni connection where star, Semi Radradra, neatly popped up a pass for Iosefo Masi to crash in for Fiji’s second.
Ikanivere’s lineout throws were near perfect all afternoon. The Fiji forwards kept the ball close and utilised the driving maul to their advantage. Ikanivere scored Fiji’s third try from the back of the maul.
Caleb Muntz scored one and missed two conversions in the early minutes but made up for it by slotting in one conversion and two penalty kicks to extend Fiji’s lead.
Salestino Ravutaumada scored a brilliant long-range try after the Fiji backline decided to run the ball out from the danger zone. Ravutaumada could be eyeing a Rugby World Cup selection for his consistent performance.
Fiji led 30 – 5 at the break of halftime.
Muntz was also impressive with his positional and tactical kicking, strong passes and structural plays, and halfback Simione Kuruvoli serviced the ball well from the breakdowns to compliment Fiji’s big forward pack.
Manu Samoa fought hard in the second half to score two more tries. Blind wing Tumua Manu dotted first in the corner after a beautiful ‘fix and pass’ from halfback Ereatara Enari and fullback Danny Toala.
Then captain and number 8, Fritz Lee powered over to score Samoa’s final try of the game, but it was not enough to catch the lead.
“There’s a lot of learning from this game. Obviously there’s some stuff to work on and there are some positives in it as well. We did not start well, and it is something we will take forward when we go against Tonga,” said Fritz Lee.
Samoa first five Christian Leali’ifano was also in top form. He scored Samoa’s first try of the game and landed two conversions.
Muntz’s last penalty kick was Fiji’s only score in the second half, just enough to seal the win.
Meli Derenalagi had an outstanding performance at blindside flanker while Vilive Miramira scavenged for possession at openside flanker.
Number 8 Viliame Mata made many big runs, creating havoc for the Samoa defenders every time he had possession.
Fiji’s loose forwards trio showed tireless work ethic in the field and complimented each other well in support plays.
Flying Fijians captain Semi Radradra noted, “We have a young team and a lot of the Drua boys and I think having 20 of the Drua boys in the Fiji team is really good for us. We will review today’s game and focus on what we lacked in hopefully we can make the improvement for next week.”
Fiji will face Japan in the last round of the Pacific Nations Cup, while Samoa will host Tonga.