VenueChurchill Park, Lautoka
Kick Off Time
7:00pm (Local), Friday, 18 April 2008
8:00pm (Away), Friday, 18 April 2008
TIMOCI NAGUSA (1) RUPENI NASIGA (1)
VAINGA FANGUPO (1) ISILELI M TUPOU (1) SOANE TAVEA (1)
|WAISEA LUVENIYALI (1)||Conversions||FANGATAPU APIKOTOA (2)|
|WAISEA LUVENIYALI (3)||Penalties|
|16||Half Time Score||0|
(IRB.COM)The 2008 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup burst into life with Fiji Warriors winning a thrilling opening match in Lautoka on Friday evening.
The Warriors, containing a sprinkling of players who entertained in Fiji colours during Rugby World Cup 2007 in France, survived a late second half fight back to hold on for a 21 - 19 victory over Tongan side Tautahi Gold.
Boosted by a bumper home support of 3000 at Churchill Park, the Warriors led throughout a tight encounter that was lit up by some fantastic running rugby, outlining the strides in competitiveness across the IRB funded tournament since its inauguration in 2006.
The Warriors got off to the perfect start, racking up a quick three points through the boot of fly half Waisea Luveniyali on ten minutes, before winger Timoci Nagusa delighted the home support by claiming the honour of scoring the first try of the 2008 tournament at the end of the first quarter. Luveniyali’s conversion gave the Warriors a handy 10-0 lead.
Despite the best effort of their powerful forwards, Tautahi Gold simply could not get into the game in the first half and they fell further behind when indiscretions gifted Luveniyali the opportunity to more penalties before the interval, leaving the visitors 16-0 in arrears.
If the first half was about the Warriors creativity and ability to turn pressure into points, the second half was all about Tautahi Gold’s resolve. It was a different character of Tongan team that took to the field after the interval as first hooker Vainga Fangupo and then centre Isileli M Tupou breeched the Warriors defence, which was impregnable in the opening 40 minutes, to reduce the deficit to 16-12.
Shocked by their poor second half start, the Warriors started to claw their way back into the game and responded on 64 minutes through a Rupeni Nasiga try which stretched the lead to a seemingly comfortable nine points, which was the way it stayed until the match entered injury time.
Tautahi were not finished though and came back strongly in the dying moments with wave upon wave of attacks. It was too much for a tired home side to repel who could not shake off the resurgent advances of the visiting team as scrum half Soane Tavea crossed for a try that silenced the home crowd. Apikotoa’s conversion reduced the deficit to just two points and all 3000 Fijians in the stadium were left giving their nails a decent working over, willing the referee to blow for full time.
Yet drama was still to come. Sensing victory, Tautahi pressed once more, and were finally awarded a penalty in the sixth minute of injury time after the Warriors folded in defence. Apikotoa had the chance to steal victory as he lined up for what would be the last kick of the game. However, the Tongan pushed the ball wide much to the relief of the Warriors and their passionate supporters.
Fiji Warriors: 1 Alefoso Yalayalatabua, 2 Vereniki Sauturaga, 3 Viliame Seuseu, 4 Samuela Anise, 5 Mosese Vasuitoga, 6 Rupeni Nasiga, 7 Aca Ratuva, 8 Sakiusa Matadigo, 9 Aporosa Vata (capt), 10 Waisea Luveniyali, 11 Patrick Osborne, 12 Vuniyani Ratu, 13 Saula Radidi, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 15 Iliesa Keresoni, 16 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Isireli Temo, 18 Sikeli Donu, 19 Wate Vocevoce, 20 Waisale Vatuvoka, 21 Jonetani Ralulu, 22 Taniela Rawaqa
Tautahi Gold: 1 Viliami Kupu, 2 Vainga Fangupo, 3 Soane Ledger, 4 Samiu Ika, 5 Petelo Pifileti, 6 Atunaisa Fakaosi, 7 Lisala Uasi, 8 Aleki Taka, 9 Soane Tavea, 10 Fangatapu Apikotoa (capt), 11 Vea Paunga, 12 Isileli M Tupou, 13 Heimuli Pangai, 14 Samisoni Pone, 15 Sitaleki Luau, 16 Feki Moala , 17 Sione Maama, 18 Sione N Tonga, 19 Tevita Ula, 20 Leakona Tovi, 21 Semisi Motuafuaka, 22 Peni Tokotaha