22 Apr 2024

Pasifika Sipoti wrap

6:54 pm on 22 April 2024
Fijiana Drua

Fijiana Drua Photo: Fiji rugby Union

Fijian Drua women in for third consecutive final

The Fijian Drua women's team has secured its third Super W final in a row, following its 25-14 win over Western Force in Suva last Friday.

Fijian Drua will meet former champions Waratahs in the final.

Waratahs were 47-27 winners over ACT Brumbies in the second semi-final, also played last Friday.

The teams have been the competition winners and met in the semi-final last year.

Waratahs had also defeated the Drua women in pool play last month.

Buna the star of Drua

In the semi-final clash against the Force, it was fullback Atelaite Buna who starred as the defending champion.

She scored three tries and showed her counter-attacking abilities from the back when she broke through the Force defense three times.

Force had started well and led 11-10 at halftime.

Buna scored her third try as the Force attack looked promising.

Drua skipper Karalaini Naisewa told FBC Sports her team maintained their discipline and composure, even when they were trailing the Force.

She said coach Mosese Rauluni had one simple message at the break.

"The message at half-time was that this was the last 40 minutes, we have to defend our home turf, and try and win this and go for three years in a row."

Rauluni told local media after the game the team will need to be composed against the Waratahs, with decision-making being critical.

He said he would iron out this area in training in the coming week with captain Naisewa and the senior players in the squad, to maximize their opportunities.

"I let the captain make those decisions but some of those decisions we could have either kicked out, especially when we were defending for a long time and then we quick tapped a few times but some of those quick taps, we made a lot of ground but it's just knowing when to play with the ball and knowing when to put it out and give our team a rest," he said.

"Sometimes we put ourselves under that pressure by playing a bit too much and they were back in our half."

Pomare is proud of Force side

Western Force captain Trilleen Pomare said she was proud of her team despite the loss.

The game was in the balance until the final play, with the Force having an attacking line-out at 18-14 down, only for a turnover to lead to Buna finding space down the right to burst clear and score the game-settling try.

It ended a see-saw battle where the Force led 14-10 early in the second half with three Samantha Wood penalties and one Siutiti Ma'ake try.

"Proud of our girls," Pomare said post-game. "We had our moments out there.

"I'm not going to blame the travel. We were in it until the 80th. We had our opportunities, but we didn't convert. But congrats to the Drua they always show up.

"I think we had our opportunities. We knew infringements were going to come. We just didn't capitalise. Still proud of our girls. Proud of our city back home. I know you're supporting us."

There were four lead changes throughout the pulsating contest in front of a sold-out crowd at Suva's HFC Bank Stadium.

"It's crazy, hey," Pomare said about the crowd.

"We know the Fijians show up for their rugby. Congrats to the Drua. We can't take that away from them. They played an 80-minute performance, we lapsed in moments and they capitalised."

Waratahs eye payback

The NSW Waratahs want payback after securing a Super Rugby Women's grand final rematch with Fijian Drua following contrasting semi-final victories.

Media reports in Australia said Friday's results meant the trophy won't be going anywhere new, the Waratahs winning the first four installments of the tournament before the Drua entered the competition and won the next two.

The hosts put on seven tries to the Brumbies' four at Allianz Stadium, with NSW wingers Desire Miller and Maya Stewart scoring three and two tries respectively.

"Ecstatic, it is such a good feeling and we had to earn that," Waratahs captain Piper Duck said.

"After a pretty hard 12 months last year, the work we've done has paid off and I'm more than proud."

The Drua beat the Waratahs by six points in the 2022 decider and then knocked them out in last year's semi-final.

But the Waratahs whacked them 62-21 in their only encounter this season.

"Fiji is electric, they have been the last two years they've been in the comp," Duck said.

"But it 's about what we can do and trusting one another."

Japan claims title

The Japan XV look set to win the World Rugby Pacific Challenge 2024 title after a thrilling 45-43 win victory over the Fiji Warriors in the second round of the competition in Apia on Monday.

The Japan XV during their thrilling 45-43 win victory over the Fiji Warriors in Apia Photo: Oceania Rugby

The Japan XV team won the World Rugby Pacific Challenge 2024 title following an 11-try, 65-15 win over Tonga A at Apia Park on Saturday.

It was their third straight bonus-point win of the tournament having defeated Manuma Samoa 48-5, and defending champions Fiji Warriors 45-43 in the first two rounds.

World Rugby media said while disappointed to lose their grip on the trophy, Fiji Warriors could at least console themselves with second place after a 43-18 victory over Tonga A in their final match.

Coaches from the participating nations' senior test teams were present at the World Rugby-funded tournament, which features predominantly under-23 players as they look to unearth test stars of the future, and throughout they witnessed some superb attacking rugby.

Winger Kohaku Ebisawa scored a hat-trick inside the first half an hour as Japan's electric backs put on a show against a Tonga A side who had their moments in another free-flowing game where attack dominated defence.

Full-back Yoshitaka Yazaki scored his fourth try of the tournament to get Japan XV up and running after only two minutes before Ebisawa crossed for the first time after more slick play.

Takaya Motohashi added a third with only 16 minutes gone, followed by two more from Ebisawa who benefitted from the space out wide to finish with ease.

Japan XV had raced into a 31-0 lead but Tonga A showed great resilience to fight back and score three unanswered tries in the final 10 minutes of the half.

Inside-centre Lamipeti To'osavili Havea's powerful run led to him opening their account before number eight Joseph Petelo Tongia crossed from the back of a maul.

A terrible mistake in the back-field then gift-wrapped Tonga A a third try on the stroke of half-time, with winger Latu Akauola the man to pounce on the loose ball.

The momentum continued to be with Tonga A at the start of the second period after they turned around 31-15 in arrears. But once replacement prop Mutsuki Urade burrowed over from a tap-and-go penalty on 55 minutes, there was only ever going to be one winner.

Further tries followed regularly after that with three more players coming off the bench and scoring.

Yuta Akihama and Ashai Doei - with a quickfire brace - both made an impact on the scoreboard before Kenji Sato helped himself to a late double to take his tally for the tournament to five from three appearances.

Warriors prove too strong

Fiji Warriors Rugby Team

Fiji Warriors Photo: Fiji Rubgy / Facebook / Terry Linford

Fiji Warriors may have lost the title but they finished their campaign in style with a convincing 43-18 win over hosts Manuma Samoa.

Six players got on the scoresheet for Fiji Warriors, the first a familiar figure in loose-head and captain John Muller, who added to the brace he scored against Japan XV in round two.

This came after Afa Moleli had kicked Manuma Samoa into an early lead.

Only two further minutes elapsed before winger Apimeleki Nabolega scored their second and with Pauliasi Korobiau converting, Fiji Warriors led 14-3.

Manuma Samoa hit back through full-back Bitner Tafili and when prop Ivan Fepuleai crashed over, there was only one point in it.

However, Fiji Warriors finished the half strongly with tries from forwards Sakiusa Vosayaco and Isoa Tuwai taking them into a 26-13 half-time lead.

Manuma Samoa scored the first try of the second half through number eight Malaesaili Elato to give the home side hope. But a penalty from Korobiau and Sireli Masiwini's converted try put the game to bed.

Replacement Tuitubou added another try on 63 minutes but there was no further scoring after that point, Seremaia Komailevuka's red card for Fiji Warriors coming far too late to affect the result.

Drua hit hard by Hurricanes

Kini Naholo of the Hurricanes celebrates scoring try during Super Rugby Pacific - Hurricanes v Chiefs at Sky Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday 13 April 2024. © Mandatory credit: Elias Rodriguez / www.photosport.nz

Hurricanes Photo: Photosport / Elias Rodriguez

The Fijian Drua failed to maintain their winning record at home in the Super Rugby Pacific season after it was beaten 38-15 by the Hurricanes in Suva last Friday night.

Despite making 10 changes to their line-up, the Hurricanes blew the Drua apart in the first half with four tries.

That also saw them maintain their unbeaten run and the lead at the top of the points table.

Flyhalf Isikeli Rabitu and flanker Kitione Salawa scored the Drua's tries with Kemu Valetini having an off-day with the boots, missing some kickable penalties which could have given them points.

The Hurricanes led 28-7 at halftime.

Valetini's penalty was the only point the Drua could score when the Hurricanes were down a player less.

Drua coach Mick Bryne said the players tried everything to score when they had the numerical advantage but were unfortunate not to get their way.

"So if there is an opportunity to score a try, it's not selfish, it's just that they are trying everything and they go on their own," he said.

"They decide they are going to win the game and we need to learn, as we will over the coming couple of years, our game management and that will be what's available for the team to score."

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes were impressed with the sell-out crowd at the National Stadium.

Over 15,000 fans packed the ground - a sell-out.

Coach Clarke Laidlaw told the media it was an amazing experience to witness the crowd get behind the Drua men's and women's teams to show their support.

Laidlaw said it is never easy to take on the Fijian Drua on their home turf and they were happy to get the win.

"It was some test, I thought the Drua were amazing in the second half," he said.

"We knew that if we had to come here and get the win, we had to prepare well. We know how hard it is to come to Fiji. I also like to congratulate Fiji Rugby Union and the Fijian Drua around, for having a crowd like that for the women's game and the men's game. What an amazing experience for all of us."

Force stun Crusaders

Western Force stunned the Crusaders with a sensational 37-15 win in Perth on Saturday night.

It was their first win over the Crusaders in more than a decade.

Defence stood out for the Force, who repelled continuous waves of Crusader attacks on their line.

They scored four tries and Ben Donaldson kicked five penalties and a conversion with some impressive long-range kicking.

The Crusaders, 12-time champions including back-to-back in the last two seasons, were as desperate as the Force for victory.

They now sit at the bottom of the points table, a far-flung position from where they were accustomed to in the past seasons.

Forces' new signing Kurtley Beale made his debut at full-back, making a return after a long absence from the competition.

Crusaders just could not turn opportunities into points in the last quarter as the stubborn Force defense stood their ground and countered with moves of their own.

Super Rugby round nine results:

  • Hurricanes 38 Fijian Drua 15
  • Reds 31 Highlanders 0
  • Blues 46 Brumbies 7
  • Force 37 Crusaders 15.

Bulldogs win big

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Bulldogs logo Photo: Canterbury Bulldogs

NRL Media reported the Bulldogs made a big statement for the season with a dominant 36-12 win over the Knights in their National Rugby League battle at the weekend.

The Knights suffered a double loss with skipper Kalyn Ponga not completing the game because of a foot injury late in the match.

Already hobbling around with a hip pointer injury, Ponga added to his list of concerns after being placed in a moon boot early in the second half of his side's loss at Accor Stadium.

Despite losing their star fullback, the Knights were already struggling to match it with Cameron Ciraldo's men, who well and truly hit top gear in their six-try romp on Sunday.

Fresh off the field after replacing an injured Chris Patolo, Sam Hughes opened the scoring for the Bulldogs, muscling his way over from close range thanks to an earlier run from Bronson Xerri.

Ten minutes later the Bulldogs looked to be in again when Jaeman Salmon pounced on a Josh Curran grubber but the try was called back after replays showed Bradman Best forced a knock-on in a try-saving tackle.

The Bulldogs added a second try in the 22nd minute when Drew Hutchison took the ball right and Connor Tracey sent Jacob Kiraz over in the corner. Burton converted from the sideline for a 12-0 lead.

The Knights wrestled back some momentum and opened up their account mine minutes later when forward Dylan Lucas charged towards the line and spun his way out of a would-be Connor Tracey tackle to reduce the deficit 18-6.

The Knights' afternoon went from bad to worse when Ponga left the field with a foot injury which forced Tyson Gamble to fill in at fullback and Phoenix Crossland to five-eighth.

Star winger Josh Addo-Carr added his name to the score sheet in the 59th minute, finishing off a slick left-side raid with an aerial finish in the corner.

NRL results:

  • Dolphins 44 Eeels 16
  • Panthers 22 West Tigers 6
  • Sea Eagles 34 Titans 30
  • Broncos 34 Raiders 10
  • Bulldogs 36 Knights 12
  • Sharks 42 Cowboys 6

Pacific teams win medals at swim meet

FSM medal winning team in Brisbane on Sunday

FSM medal winning team in Brisbane on Sunday Photo: Oceania Swimming

Pacific teams also won medals at the 2024 Oceania Swimming Championships in Australia on Sunday.

Fiji secured a silver and two bronze medals on Day One.

Tonga claimed a silver and a bronze while the Federated States of Micronesia also won a silver.

The competition continues in Brisbane this week.

Team Tonga swimmers on the medal podium in Brisbane

Team Tonga swimmers on the medal podium in Brisbane Photo: Oceania Swimming

"So far the Oceania Swimming Championships final on the Gold Coast, Fiji's swimming team impressively captured a total of three medals in the 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly events," Oceania Swimming said in an update.

"Congratulations to the Fiji Swimming team."

Their medal winners were Marseleima Moss, Manawanui Thoms and Erik Tokona.

Team Tonga set a national record in the mixed 4x100 metres medley.

Tonga is made up of Alan Uhi, Jazz Teuhema, Charissa Panuve, Finau Ohuafi and Carolann Faeamani.

They also won a silver medal through Uhi and a bronze medal from Teuhema.

Federated States of Micronesia won a silver medal in the 4x100m medley relay event.

Three of their women and three men also made it into the 50m butterfly finals.

Fiji soccer updates

Labasa handed Nasinu a 3-1 defeat in the Fiji Football Association Premier League clash in Suva at the weekend.

FBC Sports said the Babasiga Lions opened the scoring through Eparama Moroica in the 17th minute.

Nasinu responded with a Ryan Chandra goal before halftime as the teams ended the first 45 minutes tied at 1-1.

Labasa came out firing in the second spell with goals to Christopher Wasasala and Rusiate Doidoi to seal the win.

In other games, Navua beat Tailevu Naitasiri 1-0, Nadroga defeated Suva 5-2 and Ba proved too strong for Nadi 2-0.

Suva maintains the lead in Fiji rugby

Suva's senior rugby team continues their winning run in the FRU Skipper Cup competition defeating Naitasiri 28-23 on Saturday.

The side looks set to win the competition this year if they can repeat the performances in the remaining round of matches.

Big scorelines were recorded in some of the women's matches, with Namosi, Nasinu, Kadavu and Lautoka scoring over 50 points in their games.

Results from the weekend:

  • Skipper Cup (Senior men) - Macuata 32 Yasawa 15, Lautoka 15 Tailevu 8, Namosi 29 Ba 27
  • Under-20s - Naitasiri 22 Suva 21, Ba 22 Namosi 15, Tailevu 25 Lautoka 17
  • Vanua Cup (Men) - Vatukoula 21 Rewa 15, Ovalau 32 Ra 21, Bua 8 Serua 8
  • Under-20s - Cakaudrove 32 Kadavu 10, Taveuni 16 Ovalau 9, Malolo 23 Nanukuloa 20, Vatukoula 17 Northern Bulls 10.
  • Marama Cup (Women) - Namosi 83 Navosa 5, Suva 10 Naitasiri 3, Yasawa 29 Nasinu 20
  • Under-20s - Suva 50 Naitasiri 12, Nasinu 83 Yasawa 0, Namosi 50 Navosa 0, Lautoka 80 Tailevu 17.
  • Ranadi Cup (Women) - Cakaudrove 24 Ba 23, Kadavu 60 Tavua 0, Vatukoula 29 Northland 22, Macuata 33 Rewa 20.

Solomons claim Under-16 spot

Leon Kofana (4) captained Solomon Islands at the OFC Under 16 Championship.

Leon Kofana (4) captained Solomon Islands at the OFC Under 16 Championship. Photo: OFC via Phototek

A 6-0 win against American Samoa has secured Solomon Islands a place at the OFC U-16 Men's Championship which will kick off in Tahiti in July.

Leading 3-0 at half-time, Solomon Islands added three more goals in the second half to cruise to a comfortable victory in Nuku'alofa, completing their OFC Under-16 Men's Championship qualifier.

OFC media said Solomon Islands wasted no time getting into the lead, scoring the opener in the second minute of play when captain Kennedy Sihui fired an excellent shot into the top right corner.

The early dominance of the Solomons was clear as they dominated possession and looked to break through the American Samoa defence, with Steward Apaniai, Ashley Kwaimasia and Patty Kenimoi enjoying further chances at goal.

A second Solomon Islands goal arrived in the 16th minute. American Samoa gloveman Alvin Talataiga saved a Kwaimasia shot low to his left, but Junior Sese was there to stroke the ball home on the rebound.

Deep in the first half added time, and the Solomons did get their third. Sese found himself in clear space in the penalty error and confidently finished into the bottom left corner to make the scoreline 3-0 at the break.

The second half began with renewed energy from the Solomon Islands, with Kenimoe looking particularly dangerous on the left flank. Kwaimasia went closest in its early stages, smashing a powerful shot against the crossbar.

Then in the 58th minute, Kwaimasia made no mistake and made it 4-0 to Solomon Islands with a very tidy goal. After clipping the ball past Talataiga with a small but crucial touch, he then deftly directed it into the bottom right corner for his eighth of the tournament.

Kwaimasia capped off a strong performance with a fifth Solomon's goal of the day, before being substituted off for Kenton Feni. Sihiu slipped it through, and once again Kwaimasia was cool with the finish and tucked away to make it 5-0 before substitute Allen Makana added the sixth.

The scoreline ensures Solomon Islands finish the tournament with an outstanding record of three wins, 30 goals for and no goals against in OFC U-16 Men's Championship- qualifying.

Solomon Islands will join New Caledonia, Samoa and hosts Tahiti in Group B of the OFC U-16 Championship.

Solomon Islands: 6 (Kennedy SIHIU 2', Junior SESE 16', 45+3′, Ashley KWAIMASIA 58′, 69′, Allen MAKANA 81′) beat American Samoa: 0.

Tonga ends campaign in victory

Four goals from Tevita Falepapalangi inspired Tonga to a massive 7-0 victory over Papua New Guinea in the final match of the OFC U-16 Men's Championship 2024 - Qualifying Stage tournament.

OFC Media said backed on by a small, but loud home crowd at the Teufaiva Stadium in Nuku'alofa, Tonga settled into their rhythm quickly.

The Papua New Guinea defence was all over the place, and the pace and accuracy of their opposition were causing problems. Coach Marty Terry responded by replacing Harry Araga with Hyman Wemin halfway through the opening stanza, with his side being outplayed.

It failed to stem the tide though, and the Tongan pressure eventually told when Tevita Falepapalangi broke the game open with a special cameo before the break. First, he raced onto a long ball in behind the defence, before calmly slotting past Possiri to fire the hosts in front.

Falepapalangi followed that up with a second goal just five minutes later, sending the home crowd into a frenzy after receiving the ball at the top of the box and picking out the top right corner of the net with a brilliant strike off his right foot.

The Papua New Guinea defence looked in tatters, and Falepapalangi struck again when he went down in the box under a challenge from Seth Tade and the referee awarded a penalty for Tonga in the fifth minute of injury-time. 'Ainu'u stepped up and duly converted the spot kick into the bottom right corner, pulling Tonga into a three-goal lead at the break.

The victory ensures Tonga finish the OFC U-16 Men's Championship 2024 - Qualifying in second on the standings, with six points and two wins from their three matches.

Tonga: 7 (Tevita FALEPAPALANGI 34', 39', 75',90′, Sione 'AINU'U 45+8', Siaki LONITENISI 72', 90+7) defeated Papua New Guinea: 0.