THE right attitude in the second spell transformed the Vodafone Fiji Bati side into a winning combination that propelled it to a 32-14 triumph over Ireland in its Rugby League World Cup opener yesterday.
An error-ridden opening half created friction in the Petero Civoniceva-captained side after they had stormed to a 10-0 lead in the opening 12minutes from tries to Newcastle Knights duo Akuila Uate and Kevin Naiqama with Wes Naiqama adding two points via a conversion.
Fiji conceded seven penalties within a space of 20 minutes and replacement Eloni Vunakece was sin-binned.
Fiji welcomed Ireland in its own territory following indiscipline plays in the ruck situations. However, the half-time hooter came as a blessing for Fiji as Rick Stone re-focused his troops on their mission.
Uate grabbed a hat-trick while Kevin, Tariq and Korbin Sims scored Fiji's six-try riot against Ireland's three tries.
Team manager Mesake Navugona said while they were happy with the win, more work had to be done prior to the Bati's next game against Australia.
"We are happy with the win, one down two more to go," Navugona said.
"We lost momentum a little bit because of a few mistakes in the first half. But then the boys came back strongly in the second half with the right attitude.
"Rick Stone spoke to them during the half-time and told them to cut down on the errors."
Uate crossed the whitewash after receiving a flat pass from Kevin in the ninth minute. Kevin later scored his try in the 12th minute following a deflecting kick from James Storer which Aaron Groom collected and passed to Kevin which put the Newcastle Knights' flyer into space, allowing him to beat two defenders on the way to the tryline.
Irishman Tyrone McCarthy's try narrowed the deficit to six points before Wes Naiqama nailed a penalty to extend Fiji's lead 12-4 at the interval.
Tariq scored Fiji's third try when he received an offload from Alipate Noilea.
Uate got his second in the 63rd minute.
It was a similar set-piece move like his opening try when Kevin passed a cut-out to the deadly finisher who took Fiji ahead to a 22-4 lead.
Korbin Sims touched down four minutes later from a high ball kicked by standoff Noilea.
Uate then completed his hat-trick in the 72nd minute, twisting his way past four defenders.
Ireland scored two late tries to Damien Blanch and James Hassan.
Navugona said: "I am sure the head coach will not be happy with some aspects of the match and that's something that we need to work on prior to the next game."
He said the players needed to recover well prior to the game against Australia on Sunday.
by Emoni Narawa | Wednesday, October 30, 2013 | Fiji Times