Saturday, August 10, 2019

PNC Round 3: Fiji v Samoa

Fiji v Manu Samoa

Sunset and the call to battle resounded ANZ Stadium, and motions thereof enacted in explicit detail set the stage for the match between Fiji and Manu Samoa at Suva in the final fixture of 2019 Pacific Nations Cup. It was always going to be an epic struggle packed with ferocity and intimidation as the sides performed dueling Hakas simultaneously prior to the initial dropkick to put the Kettle on to full boil, the only thing separating the teams being the midfield stripe and the 20 meters of no-man’s land between the 10 meter lines. And the message the sides conveyed was not: “Hey let’s have a bit of footy and then we’ll go for a pop later,” - no, it was the opposite side of that coin entirely.

pre-match challenge

It was 3-for-the-house after a fierce first forty, though Samoa were errant twice when taking three-point pots, on sticksplitters from the standoffs, Ben Volavola and UJ Seuteni. But that did not mean there was a lack of activity. Quite the opposite. With as active breakdown scenes as you’re like to see, players were literally pouncing on loose balls in effort to secure the pill...and the AN-Zed Stadium crowd, which increased in size considerably after the Japan-USA game, abso into it: cheering lustily and exhaling as one after massive hit after massive hit occurred. In the moments of quiet between interactions, one could hear a cry from the stands replied to by a second shout from across the pitch and everyone, keen as sharp mustard, would laugh in honest appreciation and maintain vigilance.
Fiji severed the knot early in the second stanza on a grounding by 35 years old (eldest man on the pitch!) flyer and recent Harlequins signee, Vereniki Goneva, after a splendid three-man interweaving communication made for the wing threequarters’ touch down and the plus-two from Volavola. Though Samoa were breaking down the defensive Fijian door at the death pounding away with pick-and-goes, which Fiji made pick-and-go-nowhere, desperation came to naught and 10-3 the final at referee Brian Pickerill’s final whistle.
Scoring
                Fiji - Try: Goneva; Con: Volavola; Pen: Volavola;
                Samoa - Pen: Seuteni

Match Officials: Brendon Pickerill (Referee); Damon Murphy, Jordan Way (RAs)



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