Fiji Schools have caused a major boilover at Jerry Collins Stadium this afternoon, scrapping to a 15-10 victory over the New Zealand Barbarians Schools.
Fiji’s victory was entirely deserved and easily their most significant success in any fixture since a 22-20 win over the top New Zealand selection in Sydney in 2013.
The winning try was scored with about 20 minutes remaining. Scores were tied 10-10 when first-five Josua Koro snipped rapidly down the short side and finished after a 25-metre burst.
Repeat fumbles, a malfunctioning lineout and excessively aimless kicking coupled with a disturbing lack of spark at ground level - this was as bad as it gets from the Barbarians.
Initially things appeared to be heading in a promising direction for the hosts, casting an anchor inside the Fijian 22. However a fumble by centre Lukas Halls in the fifth minute allowed wing Ratu Apolosi Senibulu to dash beyond halfway. A penalty was conceded and halfback Jone Vatuwaliwali was on target from 35-metres.
Vatuwaliwali was an integral part of Fiji’s success. Essentially an extra loose forward on defense, Vatuwaliwali’s vision created the first try of the match. Another knock on was committed by the Barbarians and a kick into space was rundown by Apolosi Senibulu. The conversion made it 10-0.
Fiji’s discipline waivered inviting the Barbarians back into the contest. A number of kickable chances were rejected in favour of lineouts which often went astray.
Finally, after 27 minutes, the Barbarians got it right and lock Mahonri Ngakuru halved the deficit from a rolling maul.
Twice Fiji went close to scoring at the start of the second-half. In the 39th minute fullback Ratu Osea Waqaninavatu had a pass intended for unmarked outsiders intercepted five-metres shy of the line by Corey Evans.
Moments later Osea Waqaninavatu strode down the right wing side, failing to link with hungry and open support.
The Barbarians scrum was one effective area and a stable platform followed by precise handling allowed wing Caleb Cavubati to square proceedings after 42 minutes.
Fiji’s tackling was outstanding. Captain Alivereti Loaloa proved to be an inspirational leader and was well supported by lock Joeli Matalaweru and No.8 Eparama Tuivunivono.
Halls threatened occasionally for the Barbarians and Peniasi Lasaqa frequently sought work from the wing, but few individuals enhanced their future prospects in this fixture.
Unfortunately the Barbarians have suffered their least successful campaign ever, losing both matches for the first time.
On Friday, Fiji tackle the New Zealand Maori.
Video highlights below:
New Zealand Schools win well in second tour game
Meanwhile at Tennyson Field, Brisbane, the New Zealand Schools enjoyed a second victory on their Australian tour accounting for the Australian Barbarians 55-31.
Played in perfectly dry weather, New Zealand burst out to a 24-3 lead in as many minutes and despite conceding four tries were never in danger of usurped.
New Plymouth Boys’ High School fullback Blair Murray was exceptional, breaking at will to score two tries and create two other strikes in a man of the match display.
It was a top afternoon for Taranaki with Francis Douglas wing Jacob Kneepkens also autographing the scoresheet.
Wing Gideon Wrampling (St Paul’s Collegiate) collected a double while halfback Louie Chapman (Christchurch Boys’ High School) completed a 25-metre solo effort.
Forwards Tyrone Thompson (Napier Boys’ High School), Sam Darry (Christ’s College) and Tiaan Tauakipulu (St Kentigern College) were rewarded for their industry, each crossing the strip.
Zarn Sullivan (3) and Rivez Reihana (2) shared five conversions between them.
Australia had some bright moments. Zane Nonggorr, a 143 kg giant scored a 25-meter run way. Wing Haloti Fanua poached a 90-metre intercept to close the gap to 29-17 while centre Dennis Waight and wing Fred Tricks finished quality attack.
Niko Jones was a standout forward for New Zealand again and Wrampling is having a mighty fine tour.
On Thursday, New Zealand thrashed Tonga 54-0. Gideon Wrampling 2, Tamaiti Williams, Soane Vikena, Anton Segner, Niko Jones, Josiah Maraku and Blair Murray scored tries with Rivez Reihana kicking five conversions and Zarn Sullivan two.
New Zealand plays Australia in the final fixture of the tour on Saturday.
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