Editorial comment – A brave performance

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians wing Josua Tuisova offloads to Waisea Nayacalevu during their pool match opener against the Wallabies at Sapporo Dome in Sapporo City, Hokkaido in Japan. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

WHAT a beauty that was yesterday!

At least for 60 minutes of our game against the Australian Wallabies at the Sapporo Dome in Japan.

We eventually went down 21-39 to a team we could have beaten, but Fijian fans had enough reason to cheer, be joyful and patriotic.

When all things are said and done, you couldn’t get past consistency, staying focused for 80 minutes, and varying a game plan to suit the run of play.

But let’s face it.

The Flying Fijians were brilliant in the first 60 minutes.

Our scrums were in tatters.

We fizzled out, almost without a fight, however, we made up for that weakness with a concerted effort on attack, especially around the breakdowns.

This was made special by the fact that we came up against two of the game’s top ball hunters in the Wallabies back row — Michael Hooper and David Pocock.

But when it mattered, Flying Fijians openside flanker Peceli Yato was a revelation against a quality opposition.

The fiery France-based backrower was in top form, sniffing gaps in general play and running very strong lines until his early exit due to injury.

Skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu was strong at blindside flanker.

Halfback Frank Lomani was on song inside fly half Ben Volavola who had a very strong game.

Inside centre Levani Botia and centre Waisea Nayacalevu had very strong games in attack and defence until Botia’s stint in the naughty chair.

Our wingers Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova were strong in defence and attack, with Tuisova setting up a try with a powerful fend on the flanks.

However, as national coach John McKee admitted later, the team will need to work on defence before we face the might of Uruguay in our next game in the Rugby World Cup.

“Our whole defence will need some work before our next game,” McKee said after the game yesterday.

He said this would need to be not only for the next game but the whole three games we have yet to play in the RWC.

“All the next three teams we have to play in our pool are very strong in that area so it’s going to be a big work on for us in that area,” McKee said.

We missed 40 tackles compared with the Wallabies’ 23 throughout the match.

There is no doubt about the fact that McKee will also be looking to address our scrum.

We were sent back-peddling by a powerful Wallabies eight and were rocked by rolling mauls which ended in tries.

There were glimpses of joy though in our lineouts and general play, with Volavola commanding respect at number 10.

We rattled the Wallabies for 60 minutes.

But as all top teams know, it takes consistency, composure under great pressure and self-belief to get back into a game.

They stared at a blank wall, but stayed focused to inch their way back into the lead.

Fijian fans will, however, be rubbing their hands in glee at the standard of our Flying Fijians.

Bring on Uruguay!

Go Fiji, go.

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