FIJI has secured its place in the 2013 Junior Rugby World Cup (JWC) after beating Italy 19-17 in the 11th place playoff at the University of Western Cape Stadium in South Africa yesterday.
The Sale Sorovaki-coached side bombed out of the top 10 spot after losing to Samoa 20-29 in the 9th to 12th place playoff semi-final earlier this week.
The Baby Flying Fijians threw everything against the Azzurrini to avoid relegation in the International Rugby Board (IRB) Junior World Rugby Trophy next year. The Fiji under-20 side led 19-10 with 10 minutes to go but the Italians fought hard to come within two points through captain Giovanni Maistri's try.
Fullback Tikilaci Vuibau scored 14 points — four penalties and a conversion to help Fiji tally 19 points in their hard fought win.
Centre Sevanaia Galala scored Fiji‘s only try in 35th minute of the opening spell.
Coach Sorovaki was ecstatic with the win and acknowledged the players for the performance in the JWC survival and relegation match. "You know our aim today (yesterday) was to win whether by 1 or by 50, this was really a very hard game for us both on the field and especially off the field," the former Flying Fijian told the irb.com.
"The players have come off two disappointing losses, one to NZ and to Samoa and I take my hat off to the players we had to play for our existence in this competition and full credit to our team."
Sorovaki also thanked the Italians for putting up a great fight and giving the national side a good match.
"I take my hat off to the Italians, they taught us a few lessons at the maul. They took us on upfront and I think we employed a secret that the Italians didn‘t know who our kicker was and I think that took them by surprise," he said.
"You know there is always the element of surprise in any game and I believe we came up trumps today (yesterday) with the kicking department."
Fiji finished on the sixth spot under the guidance of Inoke Male last year.