Sun, Jun 08, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Fiji outpace Samoa 34-17 in Pacific Nations Cup opener

AFP , LAUTOKA, FIJI

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.

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