It was a closely contested match with Australia A holding off a spirited Vodafone Flying Fijians in the second half to pull off a 32-18 win in their Pacific Nations Cup match today.
Numerous handling errors and general play issues contributed to Fiji’s loss – a side that was given a reality check by Australia A, who played basic structured rugby to disrupt the Fijian side who had made 11 changes.
The Aussies were a totally different side bringing the game to Fiji who were at times under pressure.
Fiji who had looked to back its big performance last week against Tonga got off to a perfect start drawing first blood through the boot of Teti Tela.
This was after some entertaining rugby from both sides in the opening few minutes, with the home side threatening through a break from inform wing Vinaya Habosi which later resulted in a penalty as Australia A were caught slowing the ball down.
However in the 14th minute, the Aussies were on the attack and through some nice passing the visitors found themselves over the try line through Hugh Sinclair silencing the big home crowd at Churchill Park.
Ben Donaldson added the extras as they led 7-3.
The visitors then extended their lead through the boot of Ryan Longergan after a penalty in front of the sticks.
Despite trailing 10-3, the Flying Fijians found some rhythm as former All Blacks Seta Tamanivalu showcased his brutal strength to fend off a few opponents before crossing over for the host’s first try.
But Teti Tela could not add the two points.
This was all short-lived as the Aussies were again over the try line through wing Dylan Pietsch however they could not get the two points.
Fiji then showcased a bit of their running rugby as they entered Australia’s territory with Tamanivalu once again bumping off a few before offloading beautifully to captain Levani Botia to cross over.
Tela once again was not able to add the extras as they trailed 13-15.
With less than a minute left for the first half, Fiji had an opportunity to take the lead through a penalty they were awarded on the 10 meter mark of the Aussie side, but Tela’s boot was just not on target.
In the second spell, Fiji made a change with Ben Volavola replacing Tela who missed a total of 7 points.
However, Australia A started off strongly with waves of attack in Fiji’s half and despite some good defence from the home team, Filipo Daugunu managed to sneak in for a try from the base of the ruck.
Longergan extended the visitors lead to 22-15.
In the 56th minute, Fiji cut the deficit short with a busting try from lock Apisalome Ratuniyarawa but Volavola who had come in to fix the kicking duties missed the conversion.
Fiji later gifted a try to the visitors after Volavola’s kick was charged down in their own territory with Jeremy Williams pouncing on it under the post.
Australia A had the last say with a penalty right in front of the post to win 32-18.
Flying Fijians captain Levani Botia after going down to Australia A
Flying Fijians vs Australia A – tries
Australia A captain Ryan Lonergan says they will build from here, as they head into another round of competition next week.
“We will look to build off this, the progress we have made over the week is very positive so we will look to win.”
Flying Fijians captain Levani Botia says they know where they went wrong.
“I think we done alot of mistakes today and that is why we are getting back everytime, so we have alot of things to learn.”
Disappointed Flying Fijians Head Coach Vern Cotter had this to say about the game:
“Today is really disappointing, I would say Australia did their job properly, they competed at lineout time. Any advantage that we didn’t have last week, we had today and we struggled with the parity of the game with the pressure on us.”
Both Australia and Fiji have secured one win each and a loss in the competition.