17 Mar 2016

Sport: Finals spots up for grabs at World Rugby Pacific Challenge in Fiji

11:53 am on 17 March 2016

A berth in the final of the World Rugby Pacific Challenge is on offer to the winner of today's clash between Samoa A and Junior Japan in Suva.

The Japanese began the tournament with a 26-8 win against Tonga A before being outclassed 44-14 against the unbeaten Fiji Warriors.

Samoa were beaten 34-6 by the host team but bounced back to thrash Tonga 50-0.

Samoa Rugby's Director of Coaching, Alama Ieremia, said they've learnt plenty from their first two matches.

"Obviously we had the loss against Fiji to start off the tournament which wasn't ideal and we took some valuable lessons out of that, from a very competitive first half to then making some key decisions that went wrong in the second half and the score blew out so we were pretty disappointed. We obviouslt had a re-look at the Tonga game and the players performed a lot better in that one. Now we're going to play Japan who are actually playing very well in this tournament, and it's not a surprise after their involvement in many years, so a very difficult game to be in and that will decide (who makes) the final next week."

Alama Ieremia has been appointed Manu Samoa head coach.

Alama Ieremia is Samoa Rugby's Director of Coaching. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Alama Ieremia said Samoa face a different challenge against the fast-improving Japanese.

"Obviously fitness and they're very accurate in certain areas of the game so the speed of their game is critical to them and we've got make sure that we defensively are quite sound in key areas. They've shown a couple of different patterns on this tour, which is interesting, and we've just got make sure that we stick to what we can control and try and shut them down. They had a competitive game against the Fijians once again but obviously the Fijians pulled away in the second half."

Fiji Warriors and Tonga A meet in the final round robin match later tonight, with the final and third-place playoff scheduled for Monday.

The captains pose with the World Rugby Pacific Challenge Trophy.

The captains pose with the World Rugby Pacific Challenge Trophy. Photo: Fiji Rugby