Fiji held on to stave off a second-half comeback from the USA Eagles to win 20-14 in Friday’s Test match in Vannes, France.
First half tries from Montpellier full-back Timoci Nagusa and wing Watisoni Votu, who also plies his club trade in France at second division Perpignan, helped the Pacific Islanders to a 15-0 half-time lead as Nemani Nadolo of Crusaders knocked over a conversion and a penalty.
Centre Seamus Kelly crossed the whitewash for USA early in the second period to begin the fightback, with full-back Ronnie McLean, of English third tier side Ealing Trailfinders, converting.
Votu’s second try pushed Fiji’s lead out again but Takudzwa Ngwenya, who plays for Biarritz, scored the Americans’ second try, McLean again converting.
Although there were still 20 minutes remaining, the US failed to find a match-winning converted try.
Nadolo had opened the scoring with an early penalty before Fiji scored their first try just before the half-hour.
It came after a good scrum, with Fiji going through the phases before sending Nagusa away down the touchline. He needed no second invitation and Nadolo’s conversion made it 10-0.
Nagusa turned provider three minutes later when he split the American defence before offloading to Votu for the score.
The Americans finished the half the stronger, and a powerful driving maul saw Tuapati Talemaitoga sin-binned for collapsing.
The extra man made an immediate impact in the second half, with Kelly crossing after collecting the ball from John Quill. McLean’s conversion cut the lead to eight points but Fiji’s 14 men hit back.
It started with Leone Nakarawa, who found Vereniki Goneva who in turn fed Votu for his second score.
Leading 20-7, Fiji looked in control, but just before the hour the USA hit back. Mike Petri and Shalom Suniula put debutant McLean into space. He then found Ngwenya who had the pace to go round the outside before stepping inside Nagusa to score. McLean added the conversion to get the USA within a score.
Fiji were holding on, and their task got tougher when Votu was sent to the sin-bin with 12 minutes remaining for a high shot on Thretton Palamo.
The Americans through everything at it for the remainder of the game but could not find a way through as the Pacific Islanders held on.
Tries: Nagusa, Votu 2
Yellow cards: Talemaitoga, Votu
Tries: Kelly, Ngwenya
Cons: McLean 2
Fiji: 15 Timoci Nagusa, 14 Watisoni Votu, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Nemani Nadolo, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Josh Matavesi, 9 Henry Seniloli, 8 Masi Matadigo, 7 Malakai Ravulo, 6 Akapusi Qera (c), 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Leone Nakarawa, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Tuapati Talemaitoga, 1 Peni Ravai
Replacements: 16 Sunia Koto, 17 Isei Colatei, 18 Tanielo Koroi, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 21 Nemia Kenatale, 22 Jonetani Ralulu, 23 Waisea Nayacalevu
USA: 15 Ronald McLean, 14 Taku Ngwenya, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Thretton Palamo, 11 Tim Stanfill, 10 Shalom Suniula, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Todd Clever, 7 John Quill, 6 Scott LaValla, 5 Greg Peterson, 4 John Cullen, 3 Mate Moeakiola, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Olive Kilifi
Replacements: 16 Tom Coolican, 17 Nick Wallace, 18 Benjamin Tarr, 19 Matt Trouville, 20 Kyle Sumsion, 21 Roland Suniula, 22 Andrew Suniula, 23 Tim Maupin
Venue: Stade de le Rabine, Vannes
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland), Gary Conway (Ireland)
TMO: Iain Ramage (Scotland)
- Planet Rugby