Fiji Warriors got their title defence off to a belated winning start while Samoa A bounced back from a heavy opening defeat to beat the Australian Rugby Union’s Brisbane and Sydney based National Academy squads respectively in round two of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2013 on Thursday.
The Warriors were forced to sit out the opening round after their scheduled match with the HSBC Waratah A Team was postponed due to inclement weather in Sydney, but have now won their last nine PRC matches after beating the Brisbane Academy 24-17 at Ballymore.
Samoa A, who suffered a heavy loss to the ACT XV in round one, ran out 33-24 winners over the Sydney Academy at TG Milner Oval in Sydney. There was to be no hat-trick of victories for the Pacific Islands with Tonga A slipping to a 62-12 defeat against the ACT XV at Viking Park in Canberra.
Fiji Warriors, who are seeking a fifth successive Pacific Rugby Cup title, opened the scoring at Ballymore through centre Nemani Nadolo’s ninth minute try, but went in all-square at 10-10 with the Brisbane Academy at half time.
Second rows Mataiasi Ucutabua and Nathan Hughes both touched down to re-establish the Warriors’ advantage and, even though Tim Buchanan cut the deficit just before the hour mark, the champions held on for victory.
Samoa A were also out of the blocks quickly with centre Robert Lilomaiava scoring a brace to give his side a 13-7 lead over Brisbane Academy at half time. That increased with an early James So’oialo penalty, but tries by Will Meakes and Elijah Niko gave the Australians the lead with 15 minutes to go.
ACT XV impress again
Falemiga Selesele’s try shortly after gave the Samoans hope of snatching victory and they duly did so with replacement Fa’atalatala Fagasoaia touching down three minutes from time, the visitors making the most of their man advantage with Academy captain Kotoni Ale in the sin-bin.
The ACT XV, the development side of Super Rugby pacesetters the Brumbies, picked up where they had left off against Samoa A with an 11-try defeat of Tonga A, captain Colby Faingaa setting them on their way with a second-minute try in the Australian capital.
Faingaa, the younger brother of Wallaby twins Saia and Anthony, grabbed a second in the 20th minute with wing Stephan van der Walt (2), scrum half Mark Swanepoel and centre Jordan Rapana also crossing the try-line as ACT XV went in leading 40-0 at half time.
Tonga A did finally get on the board within 45 seconds of the restart but two tries apiece from second row Etienne Oostheizen and wing Tom Cox ensured the ACT XV bettered the 58 points they scored against Samoa A. The Tongans did score a consolation try through Sione Fukofuka.
Tonga A and national team coach Mana Otai was still able to find positives from the defeat.
"It was a new forward pack today and I’ve now given everyone in the squad a game which is what I wanted to do in the first two games. I’m glad the boys have been exposed to the width and pace of the Brumbies style of play and they will have learnt a lot from that today – this is exactly the standard of rugby we need to expose our local players to.”
The Australian series of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2013 continues with four matches on Tuesday as Fiji Warriors face Rebel Rising, the Melbourne Rebels development team, and Tonga A meet the Sydney Academy.
The two other matches are a double header at Ballymore with Samoa A facing Emirates Western Force A first up before Junior Japan make their tournament debut against the Brisbane Academy. The Pacific Island teams then head to New Zealand for the next series while Junior Japan say in Australia for matches against Reds College XV and Sydney Academy before crossing the Tasman.
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