20 May 2019

Sport: Fijian Latui edge Kagifa Samoa in Rapid Rugby debut

12:42 pm on 20 May 2019

The Fijian Latui scored with the final play of the game to secure a dramatic 38-32 victory over Kagifa Samoa, in the first match of Global Rapid Rugby's Pacific Showcase.

The visitors had opened the scoring with an intercept try to lock Michael McKee in the third minute but the Latui responded with three of their own, including a length of the field power try worth nine points, to open up a 19-7 lead with less than quarter of an hour gone in the match.

Dylan Lam scored the second for Kagifa Samoa after Latui lock Necani Nawaqadau had been sent to the sin bin, while former Tonga rugby league international Paki Afu plucked another wayward Latui pass out of the air and raced away to score, with Latiume Fosita adding the extras to level the scores at 19-19 at halft-time.

The Fijian Latui pipped Kagifa Samoa in their Rapid Rugby opener.

The Fijian Latui pipped Kagifa Samoa in their Rapid Rugby opener. Photo: Facebook/Fiji Rugby

The lead continued to see-saw in the second spell, with Johnny Dyer's try putting the Latui back in front after six minutes before Afu scored his second to draw the teams level again. 'Ikale Tahi international Fosita slotted the conversion to put Kagifa Samoa in front and added a penalty goal to stretch their advantage to five points.

John Stewart scored his second of the match with Apisalome Waqatabu adding the extras as the home side regained the lead with just over five minutes to play, but ill discipline again proved costly as Latiume Fosita slotted his second penalty goal of the match to put Kagifa Samoa in front by one with three minute remaining.

And with time up on the clock that's how the score remained until the Latui swung it wide one final time, with substitute Ifereimi Tovilevu crashing over for the match winning try in the left-hand corner to snatch a dramatic victory for the home side.

Latui head coach Senirusi Seruvakula said they didn't always stick to their gameplan but it their patience was rewarded.

"The message was just to keep the ball, rather than going into contact and dropping balls," he said.

"Our gameplan yesterday was to play to the edges to get the ball wide but some of the players they were worrying about the rules rather than concentrating on our pattern."

Latui head coach Senirusi Seruvakula admitted his players were still adjusting to the new rules being trailed in Rapid Rugby, such as no kicking to touch from inside your 22, but he believed they definitely suited the Fijian style of play.

"We had only three lineouts for the game and the players were worrying about kicking the ball and there was some silly mistakes in our red zone," he said.

"It teaches us to keep the ball and play and have confidence in playing everywhere in the field and that's what we were doing with the Drua last year (in the Australian National Rugby Championship)," he said.

"[New rules] like a power try where you run from your own 22 so it gives a lot of talent (the chance) to showcase their skills rather than having a kicking game."

Senirusi Seruvakula said there is "huge" interest in Rapid Rugby in Fiji.

He said the Latui will need to improve their discipline and be more aggressive at the breakdown when they take on the Western Force this weekend, who are fresh from an unbeaten run in the Asia Showcase Series.