PNC reaches new heights

(IRB.COM) Monday 21 June 2010
 
 PNC reaches new heights
Fiji's captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu scored one of Fiji's four second half tries in their 41-38 victory over Tonga - Photo: Oceaniarugby.com

The second round of the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup 2010 provided two more pulsating matches which was somewhat fitting as the tournament was streamed live on the IRB website for the very first time.

The tournament, which began in 2006 as part of the International Rugby Board's $50 million global strategic investment programme, has elevated in the five years since its inception, and this weekend was another historic move for the PNC.

Both Fiji's dramatic second half come back against Tonga and Japan's first ever PNC victory over Samoa were streamed live and the tournament's final two matches on 26 June will also be available on the IRB website, as well as full match replays and highlights from the 2010 matches.

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The IRB's General Manager for Oceania, William Glenwright, believes the tournament's growth and the region's other main tournament, the Pacific Rugby Cup, are both helping to develop the tier two nations and its players.

"The PNC has kept growing since it began and this has been seen with the games being played this year. It is becoming more competitive every year.

"The PRC has also set a great platform for the PNC as most of the players from that tournament are playing here."

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Fiji's victory over Tonga means they now just need to beat Samoa to clinch their first ever PNC title, but Japan and Samoa are also still in contention going into the final round with four points each.

Fiji head coach Sam Domoni shares Glenwright's opinion that the PNC has become more competitive because of the level of rugby in the PRC.

"The players playing in the PNC are more locally based and we are seeing more than ever before," said Domoni.

"It is nice to see most of the players have stepped up a notch to be in the respective squads. We have got both captains of the Barbarians and the Warriors, who competed the PRC final, now playing for us in the PNC."

Japan are the only side who do not have players participating in the PRC, but they caused the biggest upset of round two by beating Samoa for the first time in the PNC.

The Asian Five Nations champions recorded a 31-23 victory of the hosts in Apia, only their second ever against Samoa in history.

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Two tries from Ryan Nicholas helped Japan secure their first win over Samoa since 1999, and with everything to play for in the final round, head coach John Kirwan also believes that the PNC is at its highest level yet.

"We have had a competitive three years and this year its another level," the former All Black added.

Tonga fly half Kurt Morath took his 2010 points tally to 28 and despite his side not being able to win the 2010 tournament, they can still play a pivotal role in deciding who will be crowned champions.

You can watch the PNC LIVE and on-demand on the IRB website.