Planet Rugby

Fiji down Japan in Pacific Nations Cup

01st June 2013 09:15

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Sireli Bobo Fiji 2007

Try-scorer: Sireli Bobo

Fiji launched their 2013 Pacific Nations Cup campaign with a 22-8 bonus-point win over Japan in Lautoka on Saturday.

Racing Metro left wing Sireli Bobo, returning to the Fiji side after a lengthy absence, scored off a 70-metre move sparked by Adriu Delai in the opening minute and Fiji never looked back.

"We wanted to play the game out wide so scoring chances would be be created, and I'm pleased the boys did exactly what we planned for," said Akapusi Qera, who was captaining Fiji for the second time.

"We knew the Japanese would come out firing after their loss to Tonga last week so we planned well, and this was a much-needed victory for us."

It was tough going for both sides on a waterlogged pitch, and although the bigger Fijians dominated territory and possession they were restricted to a 5-0 lead in the first half.

Japan, who missed a try-scoring opportunity in the first half when Yuta Imamura lost the ball in an offload five metres from the line, scored first after the break with an Ayumu Goromaru penalty to close the gap to two points.

But Fiji were quick to reply, with Bobo setting up Apisai Naikatini for their second try. Aisea Natoga then touched down for Fiji's third after some hard work from Glasgow Warriors' Nikola Matawalu.

After missing two penalties and two conversions, fly-half Setareki Koroilagilagi finally found the uprights, converting Natoga's try to extend Fiji's lead to 17-3.

The tenacious Japanese continued to chase every opportunity and were rewarded with a late try to Kenki Fukuoka before robust Fijian centre Nemani Nadolo closed out the game with the bonus-point try in injury time.

Japan captain Takashi Kikutani said his side needed to work on countering more physical sides who forced them into errors.

"The Fijians were tough and strong. We made a lot of handling errors and at breakdowns. This is our second loss and we will go back and work on our mistakes for the next match," he said.

Fiji next play Canada on June 5 while Japan, who lost their opening game to Tonga 17-27, will play Canada on June 19.

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