THE Fijiana team is step closer to the 2013 Women's Rugby World Cup after beating Papua New Guinea 26-14 to finish third in the Oceania Women's Sevens Championship in Lautoka yesterday.
The third place finish guaranteed the national side a spot in the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) regional qualifier in Pune, India, in October. The top three placed teams from the tournament will qualify directly for 2013 world cup in Russia.
Fiji put on a strong defensive effort against Papua New Guinea shutting out their star player Joanne Lagona but not before she bagged two tries.
National women's rugby coach Elenoa Kunatuba said the win against Papua New Guinea was special.
"Hats off to the girls as we have qualified to the next stage," Kunatuba said.
"This is a big step for us. We will now go to the Asian Pacific qualifiers to fight for one of the three spots for the world cup.
"In any game you never count Papua New Guinea out. They had their key player Joanne and she scored two tries. The aim was to shut her out because she has a lot of pace. They utilised her a lot.
"But our girls stuck in there. They pressured PNG into defence until the final whistle."
Mereoni Yabakidrau scored two tries in the match. Lavenia Tinai and Atasa Likutokalau scored the other tries.
Kunatuba said the players would now take a break.
She said the other players wanting to represent the country would need to put their hands up.
Kunatuba said they wanted more game time in the lead up to the Asian Pacific region qualifiers.
"There are other players out there who want to play," Kunatuba said.
"But they will need to come in and put their hands up.
"But for these girls they will be given time off now."
"Hopefully we will have some training programs in place.
"We can work on our mistakes that we made during this tournament. We are looking for more game time.
"The standard of this tournament was really high. If we have this year in year out, that will give the players a lot of exposure.
"They need to be exposed at this level to gain experience.
"Australia has been playing in the HSBC series and they are a good because of that exposure."
New Zealand beat Australia 35-24 in the final.