After four years of being groomed in the pocket of intense pressure, coach John McKee is beginning to see the fruits of nurturing and belief in fly-half Ben Volavola in the dismantling of the strong Georgians with a 45-10 scoreline yesterday in their third match of the Rugby World Cup.
Volavola’s varied his options with the boot; in relieving pressure, pinpoint cross kicking and angled grubbers; pops and wide angled passing to keep the Lelos guessing in front of the 26,000 packed Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka.
The Tailevu man and Fijian kickers, outlasted the Georgians by 218 metres, kicking a total 737 metres from 29 kicks and Volavola top scored with 10 points from five conversions.
Even though Volavola’s 13 metres gained moving forward was limited, he was more of a general dictating play with a total of 37 passes from the pocket, some of which were received 10-25 metres away resulted in clean breaks and tries from the outside backs.
Volavola’s general play calmed the nerves for the backline especially in the first half with the Lelos gaining a lot of steam from their hardworking bulky forwards pushing the Fijians back with resistance and rush defence.
Once the Georgian forwards were neutralized up front from Fiji’s keen eight, the backline started clicking in the last two quarters, running away with six tries.
The loss against the Uruguayans last week could be attributed to two main areas; the disorientation of the backline without Volavola; and the mainstay of the set-piece especially the scrums with tight-head prop Manasa Saulo not included in the starting lineup.
Adding spark to Volavola’s pivotal role was his diligent halves partner Frank Lomani who was fourth in total metres gained with 56 metres, behind left wing Semi Radradra who ran a total of 176 metres, right wing Josua Tuisova with 84, and outside centre Waisea Nayacalevu, 65.
Lomani’s all round play at the base of the scrum, rucks and mauls merited his cementing his place as the Flying Fijians number one halfback with 59 passes, two clean breaks and three defenders beaten resulting with one try to his tally.
Topping all of the attack stats was player of the match Radradra, whose 176 metres gained topped the tournament so far, coming with six clean breaks and 11 defenders beaten. His two tries equaled top points with Volavola at 10.
One of the highlights of the game was the nullifying of the Georgian driving mauls by the alert Fijians who continually assessed and regrouped to negate them. A match that saw no tries scored through mauls which were easily achieved by Fiji’s first RWC two opponents; Australia and Uruguay.
The forwards scored 100 percent in their six scrums and 92.9 percent in their 14 lineout throw-ins, missing one. The Fijians leveled the Georgians in the turnovers with six won in their own half and another six in the Georgian half with the Lelos winning nine and three respectively.
Fiji’s general stats improved remarkably against the Georgians with 55 percent
territory and 54 percent possession and stood tall in the attack division with 559 metres gained compared to 343 metres by the Lelos.
The seven tries were scored by Nayacalevu, 19 minutes; Lomani, 44; Tuisova, 49; Radradra, 60; Semi Kunatani, 67; Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 69; Radradra 75. Five conversions were kicked by Volavola.