Flying first-half blitz seals Fiji a victory over Pacific Island rivals Samoa

Fiji captain Semi Radradra. Samoa v Fiji Pacific Nations Cup. Credit: Alamy

Fiji captain Semi Radradra. Samoa v Fiji Pacific Nations Cup. Credit: Alamy

Fiji made it two from two in 2023 after defeating Manu Samoa 33-19 in their second Pacific Nations Cup clash on Saturday in Apia as they continue to build towards Rugby World Cup 2023.

Hooker Tevita Ikanivere dotted down on either side of centre Iosefo Masi’s 14th-minute try, with winger Selestino Ravutaumada adding a fourth as the Fijians romped to a 30-5 lead – fly-half Caleb Muntz adding two conversions and two penalties.

Christian Leali’ifano’s unconverted try was Samoa’s only points of the first half as they struggled to contain the Fijians.

Samoa were able to cut the deficit in the second half thanks to tries from winger Tumua Manu and captain Fritz Lee, but in the end, Fiji did enough in the opening half to secure the 33-19 victory.

Tevita Ikanivere claims a brace

After a stellar season with the Fijian Drua in Super Rugby Pacific, Ikanivere opened the scoring with a quickly taken penalty just seven minutes into the clash – this coming after Leali’ifano missed a just chance to put Samoa ahead with a penalty just three minutes prior.

Fiji captain Semi Radradra set up his centre partner Masi, who was on debut, for his try with a brilliant skip pass to further the visitors’ lead.

After Ikanivere grabbed his second in the 17th minute, it was looking grim for the hosts as they were leaking a point a minute, trailing 17-0.

Samoa finally got on the board through Leali’ifano in the 20th minute as he crossed the whitewash, but it was from the kind performance that earned the side a 24-22 victory over Japan last week.

Fiji had the final say of the half as Ravutaumada sped down the touchline to score his side’s fourth try, with Muntz adding the conversion and two more penalties.

The hosts looked to mount a comeback with a bright start to the second half as Manu scored six minutes after the break, and captain Lee dotted down just after the hour mark.

However, the deficit was just too large as Muntz added just three points to Fiji’s tally in the second 40 minutes.

The win keeps Fiji at the top of the Pacific Nations Cup standings on 10 points as they look set to take the title off Samoa as they make the trip to Japan next week for their final match.

Speaking after the game, Fiji captain Radradra said, “The first half, we really did well, but we let them come back in the second. Hopefully, we can make some improvements for next week.”

Samoa skipper Lee said that his side could take some learnings from the clash: “There’s a lot of things to work on, but there’s definitely a lot of positives as well,” the number eight said. “We’ve got to move on towards the World Cup, and we look forward to playing next week (against Tonga).”

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The article Flying first-half blitz seals Fiji a victory over Pacific Island rivals Samoa appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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