Island teams look all set to jet home early

Tonga's hopes of moving to the knock out stage of the competition was snuffed out by the Argentines. Photo: Planet Rugby

Tonga’s hopes of moving to the knock out stage of the competition was snuffed out by Argentina. Photo: Planet Rugby

All three Pacific island teams look set to make an early exit from the 2015 Rugby World Cup after mediocre performances for the first three weeks of the competition.

Fiji after being crowned the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup champions in August lost all of their first three matches against England, Australia and Wales before winning their last match against Uruguay.

The five-pointer gained from that win places them fourth in Pool A and will force them to go through the qualifiers for the next competition in Japan for 2019.

Japanese fullback Ayumu Goromaru goes in for a try against Samoa. Photo: World Rugby

Japanese fullback Ayumu Goromaru goes in for a try against Samoa. Photo: World Rugby

Samoa looked promising to qualify for the quarters when the draws were made in 2013 as the second seed of Pool B but with two losses looks doomed for an early exit.

Manu Samoa has an opportunity to fight for a third placing for a free passage to the 2019 version if it scores a bonus point win against Scotland in their final pool match on Saturday and hope for an upset win for the United States against Japan on Sunday.

Tonga has an imposing task to carry out having to beat or draw against New Zealand on Friday night or the very least gain a two points bonus loss to win the third placing in Pool C.

With better points differential over Georgia who has gained eight points, Tonga two points behind at six, has the advantage with one match to play and pip the East European nation with the two points gained against the Kiwis.

The two points will allow them free passage to the next competition and avoid the qualification dilemma that Fiji and Samoa look most likely to face for 2019.

The teams have been quiet in terms of upsets they have made in the past seven competitions but have shown glimpses of the future teams they can become to match the traditional power houses in Europe and the big three from the south.

Wallaby Sekope Kepu goes in for a try against Fiji at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: World Rugby

Wallaby Sekope Kepu goes in for a try against Fiji at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: World Rugby

Fiji whose traditional strength has been the speedy backs have gained strength in the set pieces and will now have to go back to the drawing board and find ways to combine the old strengths with the new to utilise for the future.

Samoa’s confrontational rugby which has attracted most crowds to their matches were outgunned by pool B leader South Africa and then outwitted by their smaller opponents in Japan last Saturday.

Tonga played well in their first win against Namibia about a week ago, need to sharpen their set pieces and forward play to allow their strong running backs the momentum to move forward.

The upset loss in their first pool match against Georgia was a surprise for the proud Ikale Tahi which could have stalled their passion which the Kiwi crowds witnessed in 2011.

The three island teams should take note of their easy-beats foe Japan in the PNC in the past and learn from their transformation into a galvanized unit in the World Cup which has been eye opening to the whole rugby set-up.

Nevertheless; Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have learned a lot from the 2015 competition and need to go back and move on to new levels of planning and organising to battle the bigger teams in the future.

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Filed under Fiji, Rugby World Cup, Samoa, Tonga

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