11 Jun 2019

Sport: Fijian Latui stand down players following yellow cards

11:15 am on 11 June 2019

The Fijian Latui will stand down two players from their final match in Global Rapid Rugby's "Pacific Showcase", after they received yellow cards in Friday night's narrow victory over Kagifa Samoa.

The Fijians started strongly in South Auckland and led by as many as 19 points before conceding a try after the half-time siren.

Kagifa Samoa closed to within five points early in the second spell, despite losing captain Leon Fukofuka to the sin bin, but the Latui responded with a Peni Naulago try and a penalty goal to open up a 15-point buffer.

The game took a dramatic turn when substitutes Eroni Mawi and Meli Nakarawa were sent to the sin bin within the space of 60 seconds, with Kagifa Samoa capitalising on their numerical advantage to score twice and ensure a grandstand finish but the Latui managed to hold on for a 37-31 victory.

Head coach Senirusi Seruvakula said the players deserved credit for executing their game plan effectively in cold and wet conditions.

"We kept to our game pattern which was to run the Samoan forwards by doing a lot of multiple phases and then we talked about how to play direct against them and bring in physicality in the first 20 minutes and then the opportunities will just come and they stuck to that and they scored some fantastic tries from it," he said.

"Playing against our Pacific neighbours it's always to the end. We know that if we give them opportunities they're going to come back on us and then they did that a couple of times, but the message was to be patient and maintain discipline and there were two yellow cards again on Friday which was disappointing."

Senirusi Seruvakula.

Senirusi Seruvakula. Photo: Facebook/Fiji Rugby

But after finding themselves down to 13 players in the final stages of the match, Seruvakula admitted that discipline remained a major concern for the Latui side.

"The message to the boys is if you get yellow cards you will not be part of the team and that's the decision I will stay on from the last game and those guys will be missing our final game against Western Force in Perth," he said. "That's a team policy. You have to be stood down, so they can learn from it rather than having the habit of continuing doing that."

"It was done (for the first time) in the game against the Force in Lautoka so we managed to have a meeting with my senior players and the message is put across to the players."

The Latui's second victory over Kagifa Samoa puts them back on top of the Pacific Showcase standings with one match to play.

Kagifa Samoa host the Western Force in Brisbane on Saturday before the Fijians travel to Perth for the final round next weekend.

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