Fiji retains its Pacific Nations title after defeating Samoa 38-16 with a solid performance in a crucial Rugby World Cup qualifier match at Apia Park Stadium.
Scrum half Henry Seniloli’s superb support play scored him a hat-trick as Fiji outperformed and outscored their hosts 5 tries to 1. Fiji completes the Oceania RWC qualifier process which included both 2016 and 2017 editions of the Pacific Nations Cup, unbeaten.
Manu Samoa held a half time lead of 16-14 with a try from captain David Lemi and 3 penalties by Tusi Pisi. Manu Samoa’s second half performance was unstructured, riddled with unforced handling errors and poor defence allowing Fiji to capitalise and hit back with 3 second half tries and a penalty goal kicked by Ben Volavola from 60 metres out.
John McKee’s Flying Fijians went into the match as Oceania 1 qualifiers confirmed in Pool D of the RWC 2019 with Australia, Wales, Georgia and either Canada or Uruguay. “We are proud to have defended our PNC title. It is also our fourth test win in a row and I am told that is a record for Fiji”.
Samoa sets their own disappointing record slipping one place to 16th, their lowest position since the rankings were introduced in 2003. Coach Alama Ieremia admits to his side’s error ridden second half and says Fiji deserved the win. “We really wanted to win for the country and the boys tried really hard. I guess it is a painful lesson but the young squad will hopefully learn from it and we can take the experience forward as we do have a second chance at RWC qualification.”
Fijis anihilation of Samoa confirms Tonga’s qualification for the World Cup in Pool C dubbed as the pool of death with England, France, Argentina and USA.
Samoa will now have to play-off against the second place team in the Rugby Europe qualifying process and a win there will secure the Manu Samoa a place in Pool A to face Ireland, Scotland, Japan and another European side yet to be decided.
Samoa’s Prime Minister and Chairman of Samoa Rugby Union Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi says that this is a more preferable RWC pool for the Manu Samoa.