The Fiji Warriors have one hand on their 10th Pacific Rugby Championship title after securing a half-century score, 50-25, against Samoa in the second round of games at Apia Park.
Under the guidance of their captain, Enele Malele, the Warriors racked up a commanding score of half a century, crossing the try line seven times throughout the match – four in the first half and three in the second half. Jack Volavola and Malele were instrumental in adding the extras, including a remarkable penalty goal from Malele, booted from a staggering 53 meters out in the final minute of play.
The match got off to a spirited start with Samoa drawing first blood. Energised by the support of their home crowd, Samoa made a strong initial push, resulting in Afa Moleli converting a penalty goal a mere two minutes into the match. They extended their lead with a try from Uta Taaititi, which Moleli successfully converted, taking the score to 10-0 in their favor. Fiji swiftly responded with a try from Taitusi, which Jack Volavola converted, narrowing the gap to 10-7. Fiji seized the lead for the first time in the match when Sireli Masiwini crossed the try line, but unfortunately, the subsequent conversion was missed. Samoa regained the lead with another penalty goal from Moleli, making the score 12-13. Fiji persisted in their offensive efforts and their determination paid off with a try from John Muller, propelling the score to 17-13 in their favor. Just before halftime, Fiji secured another try courtesy of outside centre Tevita Sabola, who emerged as one of the standout performers in the game, extending their lead to 22-13. However, Samoa responded swiftly with a try from Taaititi, closing the gap to 22-20 at halftime.
The second half witnessed a continued fierce battle between the two teams, but it was Samoa who once again drew first blood, this time with a try from Bitner Tafili within just two minutes of play. Both teams displayed immense resilience, although Fiji’s Anasa Qaranivalu and Samoa’s Aiesi Siolo were temporarily sidelined with yellow cards ten minutes later. Fiji was awarded a penalty during this period, which Malele effortlessly converted to equalise the score before adding another penalty to reclaim the lead, making it 28-25. Fifteen minutes later, Fiji’s Motikai Murray, Jonathan Sovasova, and Sabola, who secured his second try of the match, crossed the try line successively, allowing Fiji to extend their lead to 47-25. Malele sealed the deal for Fiji with his precise and accurate penalty goal from within their own half.
Reflecting on the match, Samoa Vice-Captain Timo said, “Credit to the Lord for his guidance. We always knew this would be a tough game. Unfortunately, we caved in and lost possession at crucial moments. However, there were some positives in our defensive efforts. It took us some time to work on that aspect, but I am still proud of the boys, despite our disappointment. We tried to dig deep, but the Fijians dug even deeper.”
Enele, expressing his gratitude for the victory, stated, “I thank God for this achievement. Without Him, none of this would have been possible. I also extend my gratitude to the Samoan team for providing us with a good game, as well as our management for their support. We were well aware that the Samoans would offer us a tough challenge, especially on their home ground.”
With 10 points and a commanding 72-15 win over Junior Japan last week, the Warriors lead the standings and are set to face Tonga A in their final match this weekend.
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