The Vodafone Flying Fijians hammered Tonga 36-nil in their first Pacific Nations Cup match at the HFC Bank Stadium today.
The rampaging side ran in five unanswered tries, with three in the first half.
In a physical battle from the get-go in front of a good crowd, the two sides went at it as they tried to register the first points.
A handling error by the Flying Fijians saw Tonga getting a scrum however they were demolished by the host.
The big scrum from Fiji got them a penalty as Teti Tela booted it to touch with the side in Tongan territory.
From this, the side went on the attack and quick offloads from the players caught Tonga by surprise, as Tevita Ratuva went in for Fiji’s first try.
Fly-half Teti Tela added the extras to get Fiji the perfect start.
A few minutes later, Fiji bullied Tonga again in the scrum that landed them a penalty.
Without any hesitation, Tela kicked for touch to get them in Tonga’ territory.
The host then launched their attack from the line out, after a good few meters gained by the forwards before Frank Lomani got it out to the backs who did the old draw and pass move that found Juita Wainiqolo free, crossing over for their second try.
However the conversion was unsuccessful.
Fiji were again on the board a few minutes later with a beautiful try that all started from their own half, as the backline showcased their brilliance to get inform center Kalaveti Ravouvou over the line.
The Tongans also had a few opportunities to get some points on the board after being awarded three penalties on different occasions that were all infront of the sticks.
However the visitors opted for the touch but they ran up against some strong defence from the Fijians.
Tonga also suffered a huge blow as former Wallabies fullback Isileli Folau was forced out of the game after picking up an ankle injury.
Fiji was also reduced to 14 men after Tela was shown a yellow card for a technical foul play.
Even with a man down, the Flying Fijians kept the high intensity on while their defensive play was top tier.
Just before the break, Fiji further increased their lead after being awarded a penalty.
With Tela out, France based Setareki Tuicuvu stepped up and made no mistakes as they led 22-nil at the breather.
In the second half, Fiji picked up from where they left off showing their class as they piled on more points.
Tuicuvu got Fiji’s fourth try in the 56th minute, after some nice passing from the side that put the fullback in space and over for the bonus point try.
Tela added the extras to push the score even further.
Fiji who were in total command of the second half, got another try to the “Bossman” who had been working extra hard in the match looking for a try.
The side who were in Tonga’s territory passed the ball around to get Mesulame Kunavula free who then offloaded to Vinaya Habosi for a magnificent try.
Tela added the two points as Fiji was just too good for the Tongans.
Despite being down, the visitors kept trying to register points but they were just not able to unlock Fiji’s defence.
The win was a special one for Captain Waisea Nayacalevu.
“It’s been three years now since we came back and held here in Fiji. I would like to thank the coaches for giving me the opportunity to lead this young talented Fiji team. I am so grateful and honoured to lead the boys.”
Tongan captain Sontane Takulua says they’ll take what they’ve learnt from today, as they head into next week’s competition.
“We know the Fijians were going to come hard and we knew it was going to be a tough game. We will go back out on Monday and train on what we have learnt from today.”
The Fijian Drua players played incredibly well as they added more flair to the side in their debut match.
Players like Habosi, Ravouvou, Tela, Manasa Saulo, Frank Lomani, Tevita Ikanivere and Haereiti Hetet were instrumental in the win.