Monday, December 4, 2023
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Flying Fijians claim sixth PNC title

The Flying Fijians claimed a sixth Pacific Nations Cup title tonight after beating Japan 35-12 at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.

Fiji outscored the hosts in front of a sellout crowd to dethrone the title holders.

Japan showed their attacking prowess early and pushed Fiji into their own half.

Composure in defence saw the visitors get sn early payday with a loose ball recovered by halfback Simione Kuruvoli who cleared it to his captain who raced away from midfield to score under the sticks with pivot Ben Volavola adding the conversion successfully just five minutes in.

Japan’s was tested minutes after at the restart when openside flanker Pieter Labuschagne was red carded for a dangerous tackle on Fiji midfielder Vilimoni Botitu.

Botitu was also taken off for a Head Injury Assessment.

Eroni Mawi extended Fiji’s lead after some hardwork from the forwards, with a number of pick and drives having him crash over to the left of the sticks with Volavola converting near midway of the first half.

Fiji dominated early in the setpiece scrum with the home team struggling to set their form.

The Fijians undoubtedly had the upper hand in the first stanza, ended their game strong with a third try to Simione Kuruvoli.

Off a five metre scrum, Kuruvoli sniped with ease through a defender to fall over for score on 38 minutes.

Volavola added the conversion with the play heading into half-time soon after.

Japan attacked with intent in the second spell, but Fiji held firm to disrupt the momentum.

Right winger Jiuta Wainiqolo almost furthered their lead when collecting another loose ball Kuruvoli thumped the kick downfield, but Japan flyer Jone Naikabula won the foot race to get there first.

Fiji would extend it none the less when a barnstorming run from the hardworking Albert Tuisue had his hands free to feed a ranging reserve Lomani to race away under the sticks for their fourth try of the game on 57 minutes which Volavola nonchalantly converted.

Reserve hooker Tevita Ikanivere and speed machine Selestino Ravutaumada were unfortunately denied tries with the help of the Television Match Official.

Fiji played smart rugby to keep play in the Japanese half and force the homeside to throw caution to the wind in attempting to break their egg.

Japan’s first real chance came from a midfield break to inside centre Tomoki Osada but was caught in a footrace by Wainiqolo and force a knock on.

Naikabula would finally get the Brave Blossoms on the board on 71 minutes with the conversion added by number 10 Rikiya Matsuda.

The influence of the TMO saw Fiji denied another possible try through Wainiqolo, with a penalty given to Japan and yellow card to fullback Sireli Maqala.

Japan took their chances and were awarded with a dive try in the corner to Semisi Masirewa with the conversion away and now less than two minutes to play.

Fiji ended the game in style with Lomani finishing off some superb passing to get his second try with Tela adding the conversion.

The teams:

Japan: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Dylan Riley, 12 Tomoki Osada, 11 Jone Naikabula, 10 Rikiya Matsuda, 9 Naoto Saito, 8 Kazuki Himeno (C), 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Jack Cornelsen, 5 James Moore, 4 Amato Fakatava, 3 Asaeli Valu, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Keita Inagaki.

Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Jiwon Gu, 19 Kanji Shimokawa, 20 Ben Gunter, 21 Yutaka Nagare (cc), 22 Seungsin Lee, 23 Ryoto Nakamura.

Fiji: 15 Sireli Maqala, 14 Jiuta Wainiqolo, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu (C), 12 Vilimoni Botitu, 11 Selestino Ravutaumada, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Simione Kuruvoli, 8 Meli Derenalagi, 7 Kitione Kamikamica, 6 Lekima Tagitagivalu, 5 Temo Mayanavanua, 4 Albert Tuisue, 3 Luke Tagi, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Eroni Mawi.

Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Mesake Doge, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Joseva Tamani, 21 Frank Lomani, 22 Teti Tela, 23 Ilaisa Droasese.

Noa Biudole
Noa Biudole
Journalist |


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