15 Mar 2017

Sport: Fiji Warriors close in on title defence

2:11 pm on 15 March 2017

Fiji Warriors have one hand on the World Rugby Pacific Challenge trophy after beating Junior Japan 39-16 to remain unbeaten after two rounds in Suva.

Halfback Naoto Saito gave Japan the early lead with a second minute penalty, which was cancelled out two minutes later by Jonetani Ralulu.

Number eight Tevita Tatafu restored the lead for Junior Japan with the first try of the match, in the 13th minute, before the Warriors hit back with three tries in the splace of eight minutes, with winger Apete Daveta, Ralulu and hooker Samuela Suguturaga all touching down to open up a commanding 24-10 advantage.

Flanker Jiuta Takubu scored the bonus-point try in the 52nd minute and replacement Cyril Reece dotted down in the dying minutes to complete a comfortable victory for the home side.

Fiji Warriors fly-half Jonetani Ralulu scores a try in their 39-16 win over Junior Japan.

Fiji Warriors fly-half Jonetani Ralulu scores a try in their 39-16 win over Junior Japan. Photo: Kitione Rokomanu/Zoomfiji

Fiji coach Senirusi Seruvakula said there's still alot for them to work on.

"It was a tough game. We had looked at their matches and they love to play a very fast game, but we came out here and we did not have a good start," he said.

"We lifted after 20 minutes and the main concern was our focus and our lack of discipline. We were giving away a lot of penalties and we can't do that in our last game against Samoa.

"We worked on our mistakes after the Tonga match and we are still doing the same thing so we need to work on that before we meet Samoa."

Tonga A have climbed to second place, on points difference, after beating Samoa A 30-22 in yesterday's early match at ANZ Stadium.

Danny Tusitala dotted down in the eighth minute to give the Samoans the early advantage.

Tonga responded at the half hour mark, with a try to centre Feofaaki Kaumavae.

Samoa A slipped to a 30-22 loss to Tonga A.

Samoa A slipped to a 30-22 loss to Tonga A. Photo: Kitione Rokomanu/Zoomfiji

The Tongans also capitalised on a yellow card to Samoa A number eight Tietie Tuimauga, with his opposite, Topui Sekona, scoring to give the Kingdom an 18-7 halftime lead.

Feofaaki Kaumavae scored again to stretch Tonga's lead to 23-10 with 25 minutes to play before flanker Daniel Hytongue became the second Samoan player to be sent to the sin bin.

Winger Tuikakavalu Ika sealed the bonus point with Tonga's fourth try in the 67th minute.

Samoa A rallied in the final eight minutes, with a penalty try and five-pointer from Junior Malielegaoi, while Tonga substitute Constantin Kauvaka was shown a yellow card, but it was too little too late.

"Both teams played their hearts out, but on the back of two losses it is hard to take. We have to take it on the chin and do the best we can do to get up for the Fiji game as a kind of redemption game," said Samoa A vice-captain Jeff Lepa.

"We have a lot to work on. I think it is important to come together as a team, chemistry is important and we have just have to keep strong in the team and keep everyone positive. We know what we need to work on, we just need to show up."

The Fiji Warriors have a maximum 10 points after two bonus point wins and can ensure a successful title defence if they manage a bonus point or better against Samoa A on Saturday, with Tonga A and Junior Japan need maximum points and to hope Samoa win big.