Fiji Warriors saw their 10-match unbeaten run in the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup ended by a clinical Blues Development team, who outscored the defending champions by five tries to one in a 41-10 at Waitemata Park on Saturday.
The Warriors, whose previous loss was in the opening round of the 2012 competition, found life hard-going against the Blues who were able to play the game inside the Fijian half of field for long period and maintain possession.
Bryn Hall, who captained New Zealand Under 20s to the IRB Junior World Championship final last year, opened the scored for the hosts in the ninth minute and by half-time the score had reached 24-3 with Waisake Naholo and Lolagi Visinia also touching down.
Fiji Warriors came more into the game after the break to the delight of their fans in the crowd, capitalising on a drop in intensity by the Blues to up the pressure and earn their reward when captain Nemani Nadolo touched down for the champions.
This score seemed to spark the Blues back into life and tries from Nathan Vella and Alua Silipa made certain of victory for the Blues Development team, who had narrowly lost 19-17 to Samoa A in their first PRC 2013 match on 18 March.
Samoa A come closed to victory
Fiji Warriors continue to lead the standings with 14 points, although their advantage over Samoa A has narrowed slightly after their rivals picked up a losing bonus point with a narrow 30-27 loss to the Crusaders Knights in Christchurch.
Tonga A, meanwhile, are still looking for their first points of the Pacific Rugby Cup in 2013 after going down 50-18 to the Chiefs Development team in Te Kuiti, their hosts outscoring them seven tries to three on the day.
All Black Brendon Leonard had been named to start for the Chiefs Development team as he recovers from a broken cheekbone in pre-season. However, after Tawera Kerr-Barlow was found to have broken his jaw in the Chiefs’ Super Rugby win over the Highlanders he was withdrawn.
The Chiefs Development team were still comfortable winners with tries from Joe Osbourne, Marnus Hanley and Patrick Osborne giving the hosts a 24-8 advantage at half-time, with Sifa Lisala crossing for Tonga A.
That lead grew to 38-8 with Osborne and Carl Axtens dotting down before a brief rally from Tonga A saw Lisala claim his second try of the match before Siale Faihua also touched down. There was to be no comeback, though, with Bundee Aki and Ruan du Ploy tries bringing up the half century.
Four tries but Junior Japan lose again
Saturday also saw the conclusion of this year's Australian element of the Pacific Rugby Cup with the Australian Rugby Union’s Sydney-based National Academy team running out 47-28 winners over Junior Japan at Griffith Oval in Canberra.
Junior Japan, making their debut in the Pacific Rugby Cup in 2013, started the brighter with Yoshikazu Fujita and Takahiro Ogawa giving the tourists a 14-0 lead inside 10 minutes. That advantage had grown to 21-5 by the end of the first quarter after Daishi Murata’s try.
The young Australians rallied to within two points with tries from Kotoni Ale and Apo Latunipulu, but Junior Japan against crossed the whitewash just past the half hour through Yosuke Morita to secure a try bonus point.
However, that would be the last score for the Japanese side – made up predominantly of high school and university students – with the Sydney Academy scoring two tries by Jac Cameron and Tomasi Kolo to go in at half-time with a 33-28 advantage.
Bill Meakes and Cameron scored the only tries of the second half to wrap up the victory and ensure that the Australian teams in the Pacific Rugby Cup recorded eight wins from 11 matches with the Brumbies development team ACT XV and the Reds College XV both winning twice.
Junior Japan now cross the Tasman to try their luck against the New Zealand opposition, starting with the Blues Development team in Pakuranga on Thursday. The same day Fiji Warriors will tackle the Hurricanes Development team, the Crusaders Knights entertain Tonga A and Samoa A meet the Chiefs Development team.
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