Fiji’s World Cup preparations have gotten off to a winning start after overcoming the Maori All Blacks in convincing fashion with a 27-10 victory at ANZ Stadium in Suva.
The win snaps Fiji’s long winning drought against the Maori All Blacks, with their last victory against the touring side coming in 1957.
The match featured plenty of typical flair from the Fijian side, with their home fans treated to an offloading spectacle as they ran in four tries to stay in control for the entire contest.
A pair of tries within 10 minutes of each other to fullback Alivereti Veitokani and No. 8 Viliame Mata pushed the Fijians out to a 12-0 lead as half-time approached, and the Maori All Blacks’ cause wasn’t helped when first-five Otere Black was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Semi Kunatani.
A penalty slotted by Black’s opposite Ben Volavola early in the second half extended Fiji’s lead to 15-0, and just two minutes later, a scintillating try to Waisea Nayacalevu following a long sequence of offloads further extended Fiji’s buffer to 22 points.
The Maori All Blacks tried to come back with a mini fightback midway through the second stanza through an unconverted brace to wing Sean Wainui, but the Fijians sealed the result through an easily scored try to Nayacalevu to secure his double.
The result leaves the Maori with plenty to improve on in the second match of the two-leg series in Rotorua next weekend, with Clayton MacMillan’s side missing 26 tackles to Fiji’s five.
As for Fiji, it is a good indication of where they stand as they build up to the World Cup in Japan in two months’ time.
Following the Rotorua clash, John McKee’s side head into the Pacific Nations Cup, where they will face Japan, Canada and Samoa, before going on to take on Tonga in the Pasifika Challenge II at Eden Park in Auckland on August 31.
They open their World Cup campaign against Australia in Sapporo on September 21.
Fiji 27 (Tries to Waisea Nayacalevu (2), Alivereti Veitokani, Viliame Mata; 2 conversions and penalty to Ben Volavola)
Maori All Blacks 10 (2 tries to Sean Wainui)
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