Planet Rugby

Preview: Fiji v Tonga

13th June 2014 11:20

Share:

Fiji back Nemani Nadolo against Tonga in 2013 Pacific Nations Cup

Centre: Nemani Nadolo

Fiji will be eager to get their Pacific Nations Cup campaign off to a strong start when they clash with Tonga at Churchill Park, Lautoka on Saturday.

On the back of an impressive 25-14 win against Italy last week, momentum couldn't be stronger for a team blessed with powerful backline talent.

The deadly Nemani Nadolo, Timoci Nagusa, Metuisela Talebula, Napolioni Nalaga and Asaeli Tikoirotuma were all on show against the Azzurri and this week they welcome Nikola Matawatu back into their starting line-up after a strong campaign for Glasgow Warriors. Nagusa meanwhile has shifted to the full-back role.

That victory over Italy was an ideal start to John McKee's coaching tenure but he has chosen to mix things up for their competition opener, with captain Akapusi Qera moving to eight with Malakai Ravulo coming off the bench to start at openside against a side who drew with Samoa last week.

"Changes were made because we have other good players in the squad who were not given a run against Italy. Tonga is quite different from the Italy team and we will make some changes to our attack," coach McKee told the IRB before praising the Tongans showing.

McKee continued regarding the task facing his forwards: "Our forwards have worked on the set piece during training in anticipation against a tough and mobile Tongan pack."

Tonga meanwhile will be keen to exact revenge over the Fijians after their 34-21 loss in Tokyo in 2013's Pacific Nations Cup and have themselves changed things up for Saturday's game. Coach Mana Otai brings in a new half-back duo in the form of Sonatane Takulua and Fangatapu 'Apikotoa, who enjoy a promotion off the bench, while lock Daniel Faleafa and Exeter finisher Fetu'u Vainikolo also earn a start for what promises to be a great game.

"Physicality is part of our game but at the same time we want to play organised rugby against the Fijians. We need to improve from last week. Continuity and taking the opportunities that come our way are two areas where we need to step up," said boss Otai.

Captain Nili Latu added: "We've about 16 new players with a few experienced players who play in Europe so it is a good mix. Fiji need to qualify for the World Cup after the Pacific Nations Cup and has a good squad with their overseas-based players. But we're ready."

Ones to watch:

For Fiji: One of the standout players in Glasgow's season, Nikola Matawatu, is handed a start this week at scrum-half. Moved to wing during the close season by the Warriors because of his ability with ball in hand, Matawalu is set to test the Tongans throughout.

For Tonga: Against a devastating Fijian backline, the running response of Fetu'u Vainikolo is going to be critical to the Tongans. He has been impressive for Exeter this season, backing up his good spell at the Highlanders, so Fiji will do well to keep him quiet.

Previous results:

2013: Fiji won 34-21 in Tokyo
2012: Fiji won 29-17 in Lautoka
2011: Tonga won 32-20 in Lautoka
2011: Fiji won 27-12 in Lautoka
2011: Tonga won 45-21 in Lautoka
2010: Fiji won 41-38 in Apia
2009: Fiji won 36-22 in Nuku A'lofa

Prediction: On the back of a morale-boosting win over the Azzurri, we go for Fiji by 10!

The teams:

Fiji: 15 Timoci Nagusa, 14 Sireli Bobo, 13 Adriu Delai, 12 Nemani Nadolo, 11 Watisoni Votu, 10 Jonetani Ralulu, 9 Nikola Matawalu, 8 Akapusi Qera (capt), 7 Malakai Ravulo, 6 Dom Waqaninburotu, 5 Leone Nakawara, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Tuapati Talemaitoga, 1 Campese Ma'afu.
Replacements: 16 Bill Veikoso, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Isei Colati, 19 Api Naikatani, 20 Nemani Nagusa, 21 Nemia Kenatale, 22 Waisea Nayacalevu, 23 Metuisela Talebula.

Tonga: tbc

Date: Saturday, June 14
Kick-off: 15:00 local (03:00 GMT, 04:00 BST)
Venue: Churchill Park, Lautoka
Referee: Rohan Hoffman (Australia)
Assistant referees: JP Doyle (England), Mathieu Raynal (France)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs Australia14:30
USA vs New Zealand20:50
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615