Eden Park Dress Rehearsal


Loose forward Semi Kunatani is gang tackled by Manu Samoa players in the final PNC match in Suva. Photo: Zoom Fiji

The dress rehearsal at Eden Park in Auckland on August 31 will be the final stretch for the Flying Fijians to test their set pieces in the match against a strong Ikale Tahi Tongan side.

The inconsistencies in the lineouts and the scrums throughout the past five matches; two Maori and three Pacific Nations Cup games, will finally provide an indication of how the team will fare in the Rugby World Cup.

The settling down effect with the final 31 squad to be announced tomorrow at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva and doing the final tweaks and conditioning for a fortnight will be adequate.

Playing in New Zealand could be a symbolism of paying homage to the current world champions but in the lead up three weeks out to the Rugby World Cup pool matches from September 21 to October 9, Fiji needs to break out of the mould.

If the set pieces gel well as they did against most of the first Maori match in Suva on July 13, the Tongans will have a difficult time stopping their Pacific neighbours, vice versa struggling with the lineouts as they did in the PNC and to some extent the scrums, it will be a runaway for the Ikale Tahi.

Hopefully coach John McKee and his forwards coaching staff will see to it that the set pieces will be finally aligned in preparation for the opening RWC matchup against the Wallabies in Sapporo Dome on September 21.

The confidence to trounce any team in the world as evidenced by the abbreviated code players will finally crossover to the full code in the Japanese RWC and; oh what a day; when Fiji takes on the Tier One nations.

The Manu Samoa tackled the Flying Fijians with the ball in the last PNC match and effectively nullified the offloads that was a trademark for breaking the line and within minutes resulting in tries in most Fijian attacks.

This could easily be negated by prepping the players especially the forwards to pass the ball before contact and when making contact on attack have access to move the ball away from the tacklers for freedom of the offloads.

The Tongans after witnessing and studying replays will attempt to employ the same tactics which would be an opportunity for the Fijians experimenting a counter tactic in line for Australia, Uruguay, Georgia and Wales for the main event.

The dress rehearsal will be a precursor to the opening RWC encounter with the Wallabies and the result against the Tongans will be a cue.


Filed under Fiji, Flying Fijians, Manu Samoa, Maori All Blacks, Pacific Nations Cup, Rugby World Cup, Samoa, Tonga, William Webb-Ellis Cup

2 responses to “Eden Park Dress Rehearsal

  1. jone dakuvula

    Inconsisitencies in lineouts and scrums exposed by Japan and Samoa and 2nd Maori tests indeed worrying as you said

    • Yes, the lineout was one of our strengths in the past, the variations in the movement is so complicated, the final throw from the hooker to the jumper misfires most of the throws. It is a big worry . . . we have the height and the jumpers to secure the throw-ins for number 2, 4 or all the way back with less variations running back and forth which is confusing. Keep it simple please.

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