At the recently held Pacific Nations Cup finals match held in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, the #9 and #10 ranked rugby teams in the world squared off in a preview of exciting things to come as the world gets closer to the 2015 World Cup that is set to begin in England on September 18, 2015.
In this amazing finals match, #10 ranked Fiji rallied from behind to catch and pass the #9 ranked Samoans. After the two teams had played to a 30-30 draw on July 24, the finals match figured to be an all out war as both teams entered the finals match with a 2-0-1 record in the six-team format.
In the early going, it looked like Fiji might have the Samoans outclassed as they jumped out to a quick lead when athletic lock Leone Nakarawa broke free for a quick try center post. Following an easy conversion, the score was 7-0. After adding a penalty kick from Joshua Matavesi to make the score 10-0, Samoa finally got on the scoreboard with a deep penalty kick of its own from Michael Stanley.
It didn’t take long for Fiji to extend its lead after a unforced mistake put the Fijians in position for a try from scrum-half Niko Matawalu with the Matavesi conversion good, making the score 17-3. After a bit of back and forth that included two more penalty goals from Stanley, the two teams retired to the dressing rooms at halftime with the score sitting at 17-9 in favor of Fiji.
Perhaps it was an inspired halftime mantra that righted the ship, but the Samoans emerged from the dressing room for the second half looking like a different team. The second half started with a hard fought close up try from Flanker Jack Lam with a missed conversion to close the score to 17-14 in favor of Fiji. After a couple of possession changes, Samoan right winger Fa’atoina Autagavaia broke free on a spectacular run to score a try in middle field followed by an easy conversion to give the Samoans its first lead at 21-17.
It was time to see if the Fijians had a response to this sudden change in momentum and indeed they did. When a Ben Volavola cross-field kick caught the Samoans by surprise, it allowed Matawalu to grab the ball and sail in for his second try of the match, making the score 22-21 in favor of Fiji after the missed conversion. After another Stanley penalty kick put Samoa back on top at 24-22, Fiji found its best stride late in the game with two more tries, one from full-back Kini Murimurivalu and the other being Matawala’s third try of the match. Both Conversions were good to put Fiji ahead for good at 36-24. After another Samoa try and a final penalty kick from Fiji, the final score was settled at 39-29.
This match was important for both teams as they were using the Pacific Nations Cup as the final tuneup for the World Cup event. Fiji goes into the world cup with a difficult draw into Pool A where they will be forced to play against the likes of #4 England, #5 Australia and #6 Wales. Samoa drew a much easier route through the world cup in Pool B with #2 South Africa coming in as the only other top 10 teams in the pool. The action gets underway on September 18 the host team, England squares off against this same Fiji squad. Samoa’s first game comes on September 20 when the play against an improving American team.
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This article is courtesy of Tony Samboras who is a professional sports writer. His interest in sports started at a young age and now his passion has turned into a full time career. He contributes his writing too many free betting sites around the world.