Sport: World Cup playoff hopes all but over for Pacific teams
Pacific Islands teams reflect after missing out on the knockout rounds of the Rugby World Cup.
Pacific hopes of making the Rugby World Cup knockout rounds are in tatters with a week still to go in the pool phase.
Samoa and Fiji are officially out of contention while Tonga might as well be - they need to beat the All Blacks AND hope Argentina stumble against Namibia.
Vinnie Wylie gauges the fall-out from all three camps.
Tonga's shock defeat to Georgia in their opening game of the tournament was a blow to their playoff prospects. After gaining maximum points against Namibia, the 'Ikale Tahi needed to beat Argentina to have any hope of making the last eight for the first time. Despite scoring first in each half, captain Nili Latu says they failed to take their chances in the 45-16 defeat.
NILI LATU: At half-time we wanted to get points straight off from kick off and we got that. The momentum was on our side but the mistakes creeped in and Argentina scored straight away. We missed five kicks today and our team is a team that strives on confidence but it's little mistakes that we can control and fix for the All Blacks game.
Samoa had three players yellow carded and conceded a penalty try during their 26-5 defeat to tournament giant-killers Japan, which ended their playoff hopes. After beating the United States first up, the Manu were thrashed by South Africa and failed to match the pace of the Brave Blossoms. Assistant coach Alama Ieremia says they have no excuses and paid the price for their ill discipline.
ALAMA IEREMIA: We're pretty embarrassed with last weekend and to not qualify for the quarters is disappointing and we certainly feel for the fans and for the country and for our families that we haven't managed to achieve that particular goal. It's something that we're looking to rectify this week with a performance that they can be proud of and we certainly are focused that way against Scotland. It's going to be a tough challenge but we certainly are pretty keen to actually finish the World Cup on a high.
Fiji had the toughest route of the Pacific sides, being drawn in the so-called "pool of dealth" alongside England, Australia and Wales. Head coach John McKee says his team played well in all three matches but have not been consistent enough across 80 minutes to win. Their cause hasn't been helped by ill discipline, with Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Nemani Nadolo and Manasa Saulo all suspended during the tournament. John McKee says its very frustrating to have no tournament points.
JOHN MCKEE: We knew when we came here what a difficult pool we were coming into but we had high expectations. To play England, Australia and Wales in 13 days is a very very tough task for any team in world rugby and it's just an absolute credit to this squad, who have really stood up to those teams and been so competitive in the first three matches.
With the knockout rounds now out of reach, Pacific teams are also at risk of failing to gain automatic qualification for the next World Cup. The top three teams in each pool gain direct entry into the 2019 event in Japan but with one round to go, Fiji and Samoa are fourth in their group and Tonga are third but still have to play the All Blacks. Samoa coach Stephen Betham says it's proof the gap is closing.
STEPHEN BETHAM: It's a pity that Pacific Islanders have fallen back but in looking at it I think the rest of the world have caught up and rugby is almost equal across the board and you let your guard down and you'll pay the price.
Fiji's tournament ends against Uruguay on Wednesday while Tonga and Samoa face New Zealand and Scotland at the weekend.
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