One of the trade mark weapons that the Flying Fijians seemed to shy away from on Saturday was the thunderous timed tackles that usually disrupted the Brave Blossom’s momentum.
The modern defensive patterns that seem effective in minimising secondary phase attacks is well and good, but Fiji’s main weapon against the nimble, rapid fire rucks by the feisty Japanese in the past was the hard tackles.
Centres Levani Botia and Vereniki Goneva led the tackling against the Japanese in the 2015 PNC before the Rugby World Cup in England, with timing tackles as well from wingers Napolioni Nalaga and Metuisela Talebula.
The forwards had their fair share of bone crunching tackles with loose forwards Dom Waqaniburotukula, Akapusi Qera and Malakai Ravulo launching hard hits against the Japanese which saw Fiji triumph 27-22 in spite of three yellow cards dished out
With the sliding defence that the team has adopted is great for covering all angles but has minimized the all out one to one strong tackling that is trademark Fijian thumps.
The great centres in the past in Kaiava Salusalu, Viliame Satala and Sireli Naqelevuki not only had incredible incisive running abilities on attack but bone crunching tackles that disrupted the momentum of the Japanese.
The Japanese were not only allowed to attack at will, the defence system adopted by the Flying Fijians was ineffective in minimising their forward momentum.
And then the Polynesian influence with at least five Tongans in the Japanese lineup which would add more firepower to their attacks and abilities in breaking Fijians tackles.
The hard tackles in the past would not only turn the ball over to the Fijian team but disrupted the continuity of the Japanese sides in the past which went unabated for the first 30 minutes at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium which swung 29 points in favour for the opposition.
Fiji will have to add more hard tackles against Canada on Saturday and Samoa next week to change the momentum around to their advantage when defending their goal line.
And in the very unlikely rematch of the Flying Fijians versus Brave Blossoms during the Rugby World Cup would be a semifinal match up at 6pm on Sunday October 27 at the International Stadium in Yokohama, Fiji will have to tackle hard to make it to the final.