The Warriors have become the first Fijian team to win the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup, defeating 2007 champions Upolu Samoa 19-7 in this year’s final played at Apia Park in Samoa.
The Warriors forwards, led by captain and Man of the Match Alefoso Yalayala Tabua, laid the foundations for a memorable victory by firstly dominating their Upolu opponents and then defending magnificently as the 2007 champions fought to get back into the match in the last 20 minutes.
Yalayala Tabua scored the only try of a tight first half, but the key period came just after the break, when Samuela Bola and Viliame Veikoso both touched down to extend Warriors’ lead to 19-0.
Anitelea Tuilagi’s try for Upolu Samoa after 69 minutes gave the hosts some hope of getting back into the match, but the Warriors, with their back row prominent, defended the Upolu onslaught magnificently to claim this year’s title in front of 3,000 spectators in Apia.
Upolu Samoa were without Roger Warren, the top points scorer this season with 57, who picked up an injury against Savai’i Samoa last week. It was Warren who had kicked the last-minute penalty when Upolu Samoa defeated the Warriors at Churchill Park in Lautoka a fortnight ago.
The Warriors had lost all three matches they had played against Upolu Samoa, up until today’s final.
Warriors Head Coach Ifereimi Tawake was elated with his team’s performance. “The boys played with their heart & our defence won the game. I am very proud of the boys, they are all locals and I’m especially happy for Ili Tabua.
“This win is important for our RWC2011 preparations and these players are the future. This is great for Fiji rugby, I told them we were leaving our shores to win the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup-and we did’.
James Johnston, Loleni Tafunai, Roysiu Tolufale, Tim Nelson, Finauga Segi, Misioka Timoteo, Ofisa Treviranus, George Stowers (c), Paul Tuala Chang Teng, Ki Anufe, Esera Lauina, Jerry Meafou, Anitele'a Tuilagi, Taulagi Afamasanga, Titi Jnr Esau
Replacements: Sanele Vavae Tuilagi for Tim Nelson (53), John Vui for Titi Jnr Esau (60), Logovii Mulipola for James Johnston (62), Dominic Gabriel for Paul Tuala Chang Teng (63), Afa Aiono for Misioka Timoteo (75), Saul Luamanuvae for Anitele'a Tuilagi (75)
Try: Anitele'a Tuilagi Con: Ki Anufe
Alefoso Yalayalatabua (c), Viliame Veikoso, Viliame Seuseu, Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, Ben Sadrugu, Leone Nakarawa, Samu Bola, Koresi Ledua, Aporosa Vata, Alipate Tani, Apisalome Waqatabu, Ravai Fatiaki, Ropate Ratu, William Saukuru, Iliesa Keresoni
Replacements: Sireli Sedua for Viliame Veikoso (36), Viliame Veikoso for Sireli Sedua (41), Deryck Thomas for Koresi Ledua (53), Nemia Kenatale Ranuku for Aporosa Vata (66), Isireli Kalouca for Apisalome Ratuniyarawa (66), Isake Katonibau for William Saukuru (67), Setefano Somoca for Viliame Seuseu (69), Josefa Satini for Iliesa Keresoni (69), Sireli Sedua for Viliame Veikoso (69)
Try: Samu Bola, Viliame Veikoso, Alefoso Yalayalatabua
Con: Ravai Fatiaki (2)
Cards: 60: Alipate Tani - Yellow
Referee: Eva Mafi (Tonga)
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