Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Flying Fijians claim win in PNC opener

The Fiji Water Flying Fijians kicked off their Pacific Nations Cup campaign with a promising 36-20 win over Tonga at Churchill Park in Lautoka today.

Despite some early jitters, the home side settled to start their crusade on a high.

The Flying Fijians started in style racing in three early tries in just 11 minutes.

The first came from a fifth minute penalty try when Tongan blindside flanker Tanginoa Halaifonua collapsed the maul and as a result was sent to the sin-bin.

A set piece move had the skipper Waisea Nayacalevu break through the midfield to score with Sam Matavesi getting their third from a rolling maul.

Debutant pivot Caleb Muntz converted two tries successfully.

The Ikale Tahi struck back soon after with two power tries from their forward pack.

Hooker Siua Maile crossed over for their first try in the 16th minite with lock Halaleva Fifita adding a second four minutes later from close contact as flyhalf Otumaka Mausia was successful with one conversion.

A bit of ill-discipline from Fiji at the ruck on halfway saw them concede a penalty with Mausia making them pay closing the gap to a four point deficit.

After what seemed an eternity without possession, Fiji got back on the attack.

Quick ball coupled with Fijian flair saw Selestino Ravutaumada breakthrough to find inside centre Josua Tuisova in space to race close to the sticks to score.

Muntz converted to send the locals to the break with a 26-15 lead.

The Tongans came out firing early in the second half and after fighting deep into Fiji’s half,  they showcased some flair of their own to have reserve winger Kyren Taumoefolau score with the conversion missed in the 48th minute.

The introduction of Semi Radradra to the game lit a fire around the pitch as fans erupted.

Young Muntz played a near perfect game commanding and marshalling well from the driving seat.

Tuisova closed in on adding two more tries to his tally, but the slippery ball won out.

Tonga soon gave away a penalty for infringing in the ruck on their own 22 metre line with Muntz adding the three points.

A powerful five metre scrum demolished the red machine pushing into their own try line with impact replacement Peni Matawalu pouncing to score Fiji’s fifth try of the match with Muntz converting successfully.

The Simon Raiwalui coached Fijians will now travel to Apia next week to face Samoa in their second match of the competition.

The teams:

Flying Fijians : Peni Ravai, Samuel Matavesi, Mesake Doge, Isoa Nasilasila, Temo Mayanavanua, Lekima Tagitagivalu, Levani Botia, Albert Tuisue, Frank Lomani, Caleb Muntz, Selestino Ravutaumada, Josua Tuisova, Waisea Nayacalevu (C), Jiuta Wainiqolo, Sireli Maqala.

Substitutions: Tevita Ikanivere, Eroni Mawi, Luke Tagi, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Viliame Mata, Peni Matawalu, Vilimoni Botitu, Semi Radradra.

Tonga: Siegfried Fisi’hoi, Siua Malie, Ben Taumafuna, Halaleva Fifita, Samuela Lousi, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Solomone Funaki, Vaea Fifita, Sonatane Takulua (C), Otumaka Mausia, Solomone Kata, Malakai Fekitoa, Afupisa Taumoepeau, Fini Inisi, Charles Piutau.

Substitutions: Samiuela Moli, Feao Fotuaika, Tau Koloamatani, Sitiveni Valianu, Manu Paea, Patrick Pellegrini, Kyren Taumoefolau.

Noa Biudole
Noa Biudole
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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