The Fiji backs held too much firepower as they romped to an overwhelming 34-17 win over Samoa in the opening Pacific Nations Cup rugby championship match yesterday.
Fiji scored five tries to three, snapping up a bonus point victory against their traditional Pacific island rivals.
It was the season start they were looking for, reversing last year’s loss to Samoa, but their fast-paced game suffered from a high error count as several attacks stretched the Samoan defense before ending with handling errors.
The mistakes restricted Fiji to a 12-0 lead at halftime, but as the Samoan defense began to crumble after the turn they piled on a further 19 points before Samoa came back with three late tries.
“There are still a lot of things we have to fix up. We let them come back at the end, there was a lot of dropped balls. Who knows what the score could have been if we had held on to them,” Fiji captain Mosese Rauluni said. “We had to get on top of Samoa. We knew they would come back physically and they did at the end as our boys lapsed in defense.”
The benefit of having 12 experienced players back from last year’s World Cup side against a new-look Samoa side was evident from the kick-off as Fiji spent the opening 10 minutes camped on the try-line.
But the points were not immediately forthcoming against a determined defense.
Powerful center Sireli Naqelevuki, who plies his trade with the Western Stormers in the Super 14, crossed the line early but could not get the ball down and Taniela Rawaqa missed a handy penalty.
Rauluni eventually started the scoring in the 14th minute when he nipped around a ruck unopposed after a Naqelevuki break had taken them up to the line.
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
WNBA star Maya Moore has married the man that she helped free from prison. Moore was in the prime of her playing days when she paused her basketball career at the age of 30 in February last year to work on the campaign to free Jonathan Irons. Irons, who is 40, had been serving a 50-year prison sentence over the shooting of a homeowner during a robbery when Irons was 16. A judge ruled in March that prosecutors had suppressed fingerprint evidence that could have helped prevent Irons from being found guilty — and he was freed from prison in July. “We wanted to