SECOND place is the best Fiji can hope for when they play Tonga in the last Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) match this Saturday.
This was after Samoa beat Japan 27-26 in Tokyo yesterday to lift the International Rugby Board PNC title for the second time.
Their come-from-behind win cancelled out Fijis hope for success in the Pacific-Rim competition.
Forward Hendrik Tui and fullback Ayumu Goromaru ran in tries to help the hosts take the lead after 27 minutes.
Tries from New Zealand based lock Faatiga Lemalu and former Canterbury Crusaders halfback Kahn Fotualii reduced the deficit to 16-14 at the break.
Flyhalf Ki Anufe slotted a penalty early in the second half to give the men in blue the lead for the first time in the match.
The visitors extended their lead to 24-16 after Lemalus second try and a successful conversion by Samoan sevens star Lolo Lui.
A few minutes later Anufe kicked his second penalty to take Samoas tally to 27.
Two late tries from Takashi Kitutani and captain Toshiaki Hirose allowed the Japanese to claw their way back into the game but the last minute conversion attempt by inside centre Nicholas Ryan sailed wide.
Flying Fijians team manager Isei Rayawa rued Fijis missed chances and said they missed their mark when they lost to Samoa in their second match 26-29. He said it would be a consolation for Fiji to win their game against Tonga to finish second.
It doesnt matter, we will not relax and we will not take our game against Tonga lightly, Rayawa said.
In fact it should be a message to the boys to work harder to at least help Fiji finish second in the competition.
He said despite the close margins in the games against Samoa and Scotland, a loss was a loss. Even though we gave it everything we had and got so close, even though we played entertaining rugby, we were still behind on the scoresheet.
They were close margins but they were not wins and that is what counts and our loss against Samoa in the PNC put us on the back foot.
Rayawa said the winning formula cannot be achieved in the beginning stages of the rebuilding process.
He said it will take time, patience, understanding and unity for Fiji to get the desired results.
This is just the first year for the new coaching and team management panel and we have made wholesale changes to the Fiji team. Rayawa said.
So the people of Fiji and the fans of our national team must understand that we are still on the pathway and it will slowly start bearing fruit.
We should look at the good aspects of our performances and that is that we have many locals in the national team and they are putting on their best performances. He said the coaching and management staff had turned their focus on beating Tonga.
These players will once again have to dig deep within themselves to put up another outstanding performance.
We have to play a more schematic and structured style of rugby and we must win that game for the fans of Fiji rugby.
We loved the way the fans came out in large number and cheered us on in our game against Scotland over the weekend. We would like to urge the fans to do the same against Tonga because we want to win this game for the people of Fiji, especially for the victims of the floods.
We need all the support we can get and rest assured that the boys will play their part on match day.
Fiji and Tonga both have five points, however, superior points difference puts our national side above the Ikale Tahi.
Japan, winners of the 2011 PNC, finished the competition at the bottom of the table after losing all three of their games.