PNC: Match day two preview

(IRB.COM) Friday 18 June 2010
 
 PNC: Match day two preview
Match day two will go a long way in determining who will become ANZ PNC 2010 champions - Photo: Oceaniarugby.com

The ANZ Pacific Nations Cup 2010 continues this weekend with all remaining matches at Apia Park in Samoa now available live and on-demand on the IRB website.

WATCH THE ANZ PNC STREAMED LIVE AND ON-DEMAND ON IRB.COM>>


The announcement that the IRB will be streaming the remainder of the PNC came in the same week that the ANZ PNC Legacy Programme was launched.

The first match on 19 June, between Fiji and Tonga, kicks off at 13:10 local time (00:10 Sunday morning GMT) followed by Samoa v Japan at 15:40 local time (02:40 GMT).

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Having suffered first round defeats to Fiji and Samoa, Tonga and Japan will need to win their second matches to stand any chance of winning the trophy.

All teams know that a new name will be etched on the trophy this year, and for Tonga, playing Fiji is something they will relish, having beaten them three times in the past four matches they have played, all of which were in the PNC.

Having scored 13 points in the narrow 24-23 defeat to Samoa, this year's leading points scorer Kurt Morath says it is a do-or-die match for his beloved Tonga, however.

PNC STATISTICS>>

"I know Fijian players are very talented players and we are not taking them lightly in this game, it is really important" said the 24-year-old. 



"All I want is to help Tonga and get the team to a higher status. My love for Tonga is always inspiring me to push the team to the next level.

"I will give everything, as will all the other players, to go out there and get the win. I think we can win the game against Fiji so we are looking forward to it."



The fly half played outside his brother Daniel against Samoa, but the scrum half has been replaced by Samisoni Fisilau in one of four changes made by Isitola Maka for the match against Japan.

Daniel enjoys playing with his brother but believes the match against Fiji is going to require more than just brotherly love.



"We have to give our best shot in this game because the Fijians are very dangerous players. We have to lift our game to the next level to have any chance of beating them and winning the trophy."

Fiji have made five changes to the side that beat Japan, including former Stormers' player Sireli Naqelevuki replacing Iliesa Keresoni at inside centre, and Taniela Rawaqa taking over from Jaoji Dakuvula at full back.

Their captain, Dominiko Waqaniburotu has been switched to flanker and he believes his side can record a second victory in this year's competition.



"We have some good talent in the team, most of the boys played at the PRC competition and know what to expect," Waqaniburotu said.



"They (Tonga) lost last week and I believe they will want to win this time. It is not going to be an easy game for us but we just want to go out there and give our best shot for the country."




Video: Fiji v Japan highlights


Samoa v Japan 


Japan have made two changes from the side that lost to Fiji, James Aldridge will start at fly half replacing Shaun Webb and Toshizumi Kitagawa takes over from Luke Thompson in the second row.

Samoa have replaced centre George Pisi with Gavin Williams, which also gives Williams a chance to become the all-time leading points scorer in the Pacific Nations Cup. Williams currently has 73 points, and needs just three points to overtake Tonga's Pierre Hola who has 75.

Japan have beaten Samoa just once before, back in 1999, and have lost all four of their PNC matches against the Pacific Islanders but head coach John Kirwan believes his side have learnt a lot from the match with Fiji.

"Hopefully we've learnt from our mistakes in the game against Fiji and do not commit the same again.

"We have been working on that in preparation and with the presence of a few Polynesian players in the team, it should be great."

One of Japan's Polynesian players, Samoan-born Alisi Tupuailei, is looking forward to playing against his home team.

"I feel somewhat like those Samoans playing for New Zealand do when they play Samoa," said the 29-year-old. "They are representing all the New Zealanders although deep down inside they are Samoans.

"Playing along with the Japanese is good, they are the same as Polynesian players. They have the same humour, same values and they also respect each other. They go by rules, if it's right or wrong, they still stick by the rules."



You can watch both matches LIVE on the IRB website, as well as on-demand highlights.