Fiji shows glimpses of greatness

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Peceli Yato and Ben Volavola hold up Wallaby centre Samu Kerevi at Sapporo. Photo: AP

The Flying Fijians played an expansive, flamboyant game in the first half of their opening Rugby World Cup match but bowed out graciously to a better team in the second half.

The cohesiveness of the forwards and backline was sublime forcing the clueless twice world champions to play second fiddle.

The final 21-39 scoreline hardly reflected on the actual action on field activity which saw Fiji still leading the Australians at the end of the third quarter 21-20.

Fiji should hold their heads high and focus on their next assignment against the charismatic Uruguayans on Wednesday at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium.

The precise manouvering and reckless abandon shown by the starting lineup in the first half is reminiscent of the Fijians of the 60s and 70s that I watched growing up.

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Australian skipper Michael Hooper is held by Fijian centre Waisea Nayacalevu at the Sapporo Dome. Photo: World Rugby

The hardened resolve though through years of professional discipline in playing European premier leagues and Super Rugby has sharpened those features to another level.

Furthermore, the steady guidance from the astute managing of Kiwi John McKee unveils an improved disciplined side with a promising Japanese tournament.

There were a few questionable calls:
* Yes, the questionable call not to punish a red card offence on Australian wing Reece Hodge on Peceli Yato was appalling
* Skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu who questioned the call was told by the referee that the TMO had not seen any infringement
* Why was Yato forcefully put out of the game for a possible concussion caution when he at that stage was the most devastating attacker for the forwards
* Yes the yellow card on Lepani Botia was questionable.

The above calls were made in the heat of the battle and we should take our cue from coach McKee who said after the match that we cannot blame the ref.

We have a very good chance to make it to quarterfinals still by making sure we beat Uruguay and Georgia before the Welsh showdown.

If we can account for all three teams we might play the Wallabies again in the final, if.

That is if after qualifying for the knockout stage Fiji beats England in the quarters and accounting for the Kiwis in the semifinal.

This is a very improbable route but not impossible, after the boost we get after getting to the knockout stage, Fiji will get second wind and blow these two teams out of the tournament.
Bring it on.

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Fiji celebrates a try by Peceli Yato to put Fiji in front. Photo: AP

 

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Filed under 2019 Rugby World Cup, Australia, Fiji, Flying Fijians, Focus on rwc, Opinion, Wallabies

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