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Fiji Bati says Thank You

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 21:13

By MAIKELI SERU

Please write our gratitude to the people of Fiji for their support, prayers and online messages, Vodafone Fiji skipper Petero Civoniceva told Sun Sports from Rochdale, United Kingdom yesterday after the 32-14 win over Ireland.
The win, Fiji’s first in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, had qualified Fiji to the quarterfinals.
The skipper said the messages and well wishers during the week psyched the players.
“Your messages and well wishers were read to us in the changing room. Some of us were emotional. We knew that you were with us as a country and as one people,” Civoniceva said .
“We spoke about it, discussed it and prayed about it as a team before we ran out. The players said we were going to rattle the Irish. They were determined and we got down to the game from the start. We had some bad moments but we came back. Your messages helped us. The boys knew that they had the support from home and their families and we were proud to represent Fiji on the field today (yesterday).
“We knew Ireland would be tough but we glowed with energy and commitment. We planned to play with heavy defence. We were strong because we had the Fijian pride.”
The Fijians sparked in the rain and cold conditions to tame Ireland in front of about 9000 spectators.
The four-try feat lifted Fiji to the top of the Group A against opponents Australia, which we meet on Saturday, England and Ireland.
Coviniceva said Australia, his former team, could also be beaten.
“We have a very short time. We have the next 48 hours to recover. We have some niggling injuries, some bumps and some bruises. We are going to recover well because Australia will be tough.
“They have some favourite National Rugby League players. We respect them and we will be up to the challenge. We have a good grouping of some professional NRL players too but as Fijians we will play with passion and pride. That is the difference and I suppose we can stop them.”
He said the team discussed their weaknesses against Ireland.
“We are disappointed because Ireland came through at the end. We had discussed that and the boys remain committed that we are going to go over that. We have 48 hours to prepare for Australia. We will recover well and come back strongly,” he said.
Fiji’s tries were scored by Akuila Uate (3), Kevin Naiqama, Tariq Sims, Korbin Sims. Wes Naiqama landed four conversions. Vodafone Fiji Bati 32-14 Ireland.

Uate sparkles in the rain as Fiji tame Ireland

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 21:03

A record-breaking crowd of almost 9,000 people packed into Spotland to see Akuila Uate complete a memorable hat-trick as Fiji flew to the top of Rugby League World Cup Group A. 

The Batis were too strong when it mattered against an Ireland side which rarely seemed able to rise to the heights they enjoyed in the World Cup Down Under in 2008. 

After the Pacific islanders’ devastating start, which threatened to take the game away from them, Ireland responded strongly until Fiji found a second gear to pull away, thanks mainly to Uate’s three scores. 

Rochdale’s first-ever World Cup fixture – in any sport – ensured an official sell out at Spotland Stadium, with a large portion of the crowd filled by passionate Fijians, whose vociferous backing of their side set in motion the tone of the night’s match. 

Fiji’s starting 13 featured three brothers in Ashton, Tariq and Korbin Sims, though it was another pair of Bati siblings – Kevin and Waisale Ligani Naiqama – who really set their nation’s RLWC2013 campaign in motion. 

Ireland just about made it through a savage first set as Fiji instantly imparted pressure on their opponents, who were saved early on by some loose Fijian handling in greasy conditions created by heavy rain over the preceding 24 hours. 

Fiji soon adapted, however, scoring the first try after 10 minutes following a slick passing move that spanned the width of the field. Full-back Kevin Naiqama offloaded to Uate, who touched down in the corner. 

Just two-and-a-half minutes later Fiji scored their second: this time Naiqama turned try-scorer as the Bati benefitted from a lucky deflection with James Storer’s kick hitting a green shirt and falling to Aaron Groom, who simply laid off Kevin Naiqama to dance through Ireland’s defence. 

Kevin Naiqama was the epitome of the Fijian game in the first 15 minutes, as he intercepted with Ireland enjoying some rare territory, making 40 metres as the Bati were unlucky not to score a third try in quick succession – the Irish defence this time stood firm, holding aloft a number of Bati shirts to prevent the ball being grounding.

 When Ireland were finally able to spend some time deep in Fijian territory, they met one of the most aggressive defences that RLWC2013 is likely to see. Time and again white shirts flew into the Irish attackers, resulting eventually in referee Phil Bentham issuing Fiji a full team warning, such was their ferocity in the tackle. 

Ireland eventually got their just reward for persevering as Tyrone McCarthy finished a drawn-out move in the corner for the Wolfhounds, who showed their Fijian counterparts that they too can dish out a physical game. 

The electric atmosphere inside Spotland was feeding off a high-voltage display on the field, as both sides put their all into a tie from which the winners would be in pole position to qualify from Group A.

 Eloni Vunakece’s high tackle on Rory Kostjasyn earned him 10 minutes in the sin-bin just before half-time but Ireland could not capitalise, despite their man advantage. 

As half-time came and went so did another heavy downpour, re-slickening the surface. Fiji ditched the delicate handling which featured in their attacks during the first period for an all-out bulldozing approach, which paid dividends instantly as Tariq Sims claimed a scrappy try.

 Fiji’s fourth was much easier on the eye. Uate finished in the corner again to round off a move that mirrored his side’s first score, a lovely sweeping sequence from left to right. 

Korbin Sims added the fifth Fijian try not long after, the Newcastle Knights prop out-jumping Ireland’s defence to pluck the ball from the rainy night sky and touch down.

There was still time for Uate to grab his hat-trick, the Newcastle Knights winger again finished a move in the right corner as the teams started to tire after a brutal match. 

Ireland, to their credit, finished with a flurry of tries as Damien Blanch first reduced the gap by latching on to Scott Grix’s deflected kick before James Hasson squeezed through for a  touchdown in the game’s last play.

Fiji play Australia next up at Langtree Park, St Helens, on Saturday, the  same day that Ireland face England at an already-sold out John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield. 

Whether each side will have available their full cohort is debateable. A number of ugly clashes between the teams will be considered by an International Match Review Panel on Tuesday morning. 

Fiji

Kevin Naiqama

Marika Koroibete

Sisa Ledua Waqa

Waisale Ligani Naiqama

Akuila Uate

Alipate Noilea

Aaron Groom

Ashton Sims

James Storer

Petero Civoniceva

Tariq Sims

Jayson Bukuya

Korbin Sims

Interchange:

Apisai Koroisau

Eloni Vunakece

Kane Evans

Vitale Junior Roqica

Ireland

Scott Grix

Damien Blanch

Stuart Littler

Apirana Pewhairangi

Pat Richards

James Mendeika

Liam Finn

Brett White

Rory Kostjasyn

Eamon O’Carroll

Tyrone McCarthy

Dave Allen

Ben Currie

Interchange:

Bob Beswick

James Hasson

Kurt Haggerty

Anthony Mullally

Referee: Phil Bentham (England).

Fiji 32 (Tries:  Uate (3), Kevin Naiqama, Tariq Sims, Korbin Sims; Goals: Waisale Ligani Naiqama (4), Ireland 14 (Tries: McCarthy, Blanch, James Hasson; goals: Pat Richards     

Attendance: 8,872

 

Fiji 32, Ireland 14

By Joe Smith

At Spotland Stadium

Kane Evans wants to win for Fiji

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 20:05

Vodafone Fiji Bati rep, Kane Evans wants to win for Fiji and his relatives today.
This is when Fiji plays Ireland at 9am.
“I am ready, I am nervous and the thought of it, is making me jump out of my skin,” Evans said from Rochdale, England yesterday.
He was among the 19 players selected by head coach, Rick Stone, to play against Ireland.
The 21-year-old Australian-born and Sydney Roosters prop and second row, is among the powerful forwards in the National Rugby League competition.
“It is unbelievable. I always wanted to play for Fiji and I am closer to achieving that now. I am in the 19-member squad and hopefully if I run on, I do not want to compromise our chances. Ireland will be the underdog and like Fiji in 2008, they can upset Fiji.
“We will win and I will help make us win. I am privileged to play alongside some top players like Petero, Ashton and Akuila. I want to play and win for Fiji, my families in Suva, Nadi and Vanuabalavu,” he said.

Captain’s Run
Meanwhile Stone took the team on its Captain’s Run yesterday morning at the Spotland Stadium, Rochdale.
The team’s spokesman, Tomi Finau said they expected to play under drizzly and very cold conditions.
“The boys had the captain’s run under rain yesterday. It was also very cold and we are thankful that we had the run under those conditions because it is forecasted that we will play under the same conditions,” Finau said.
“Captain Petero Civoniceva was barking orders and setting directions on the field helped by coach Rick from the sideline. All 19 players are eager to go and Rick has left the naming of the run on 17 until late in order to have fair selection over the selected players.
The boys are confident, the support is tremendous, the players know what is needed of them and we are confident that we will win for our country today. We are confident that we can beat Ireland.”

Dinner out
Coach Stone took the team out for dinner having some Italian food last night.
Finau said the dinner was to try and settle the boys before the match this morning.

Wristbands, fines and mobile phones
Wristbands from Fiji were received yesterday.
“In our last workshop in Nadi, before departure, the boys requested for a production of wristbands to have Relentless, Discipline, Faith and Brotherhood printed on them. This is to help instill and remember our team values every time – when they wake up, when they are alone and also whatever they do in the World Cup. The bands will remind them of the team’s values.
“While it is cold here, there are fines imposed throughout the team. Whoever says that conditions are cold would be fined 30 pounds which is about 60 dollars Fijian. Those who are late to team gatherings and meetings are fined 20 pounds which is 40 Fijian dollars.
“Most importantly, to encourage communication among players, the coach had banned the use of mobile phones during team gathering. Some phones, including mine and some of us in the management, were confiscated last week by the coach. Instead of spending most of their times on texting, emails, twitter and sharing photos, the coach has banned phones to encourage players to talk and communicate among themselves.
“Tomorrow (today) is an important day for all of us. We will win and we dedicate the game to the people of Fiji, Fijians here, our sponsors, our media partners and our families,” Finau said.
The match will be telecast live on Fiji One.

 

By MAIKELI SERU | Fiji Sun

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