LAPSES in concentration and lack of fitness towards the end proved to be the downfall of the Fiji Schoolboys as they lost 12-29 to Australia Schoolboys at Churchill Park in Lautoka yesterday.
It was a vastly improved effort from the visitors following their loss to the Fiji Presidents XV 9-18 in Nadi last Saturday.
The Aussies led 10-5 at half-time but the home side snuck in a runaway try early in the second spell to take the lead.
However, with the Fiji Schoolboys still in celebration mood, the visitors struck with a vital blow from the kick-off scoring immediately. The Australia Schoolboys dominated the scrums. They blew away the Fijians in the last five minutes showing superior fitness to score two tries to seal victory.
Fiji Schoolboys team manager Setareki Merekula said despite the loss, his players gave their best shot.
He said they needed to do the selections earlier for such a high level game.
Merekula said the Aussies had been preparing for a long time.
"The Australians did good homework after their loss to the Fiji Presidents XV," Merekula said.
"The lapses in concentration were obvious during the game. The pace of the game was high. But we failed to retain the ball when needed. We had focused on the fitness level but the boys were worn out towards the end.
"For such a match, we need to do a lot of preparation. The Australians had been preparing for this game months ago while we just started camping after the Deans competition.
"In fact we could have done better than that. Just like starting the selection early, getting the administrative matters settled rather than having it just weeks before an international match like this.
"We need to expose our schoolboys more. But we believe that we have improved. One of the reason is because of the Deans Trophy which is now contested for in the under-18 grade.
"On Saturday, the Fiji Presidents XV won. Then we gave the Australians a tough time. This is a positive indication that Fiji rugby is on the right track."
Australia Schoolboys coach Steve Phillpotts was happy with the improvement made by his side.
He said their fitness stood out.
"We are happy with the performance and the boys showed a lot of character," Phillpotts said.
"The boys stuck to the game plan. Our fitness stood out. Our boys have been together for a while so the fitness probably kicked in.
"We have to keep improving. But certainly it was a good turnaround from last Saturday. Fiji played competitively."
Australia fullback Johan Placid scored a brilliant try in the 12th minute. Placid caught a long dropout ball inside his own territory and blitzed past the Fijian defenders running 60 metres to dot down close to the post.
Tom Wilson converted. He successfully kicked a penalty in the 27th minute to push the visitor's tally into double figures.
Winger Emosi Bure showed his pace out wide racing 50 metres to score the opening try for the Fiji Schoolboys. The conversion from Eneri Ratudradra failed. Australia Schoolboys led 10-5 at half-time. The home side made a bright start in the second spell with centre Masiwani Isireli scooping the ball from a turn-over and dashing 30 metres to touchdown.
Kini Douglas converted to put the Fiji Schoolboys in front for the first time. However, Fiji's lead was short-lived as Aaron Pleash scored at the other end from a quick tap penalty. Wilson converted. The visitors finished with a flourish with Tomas Robertson and Andrew Robinson scoring a try each late in the match.
Previous Results: (2003) Australia Schoolboys 17 Fiji Schoolboys 12. (2006) Australia Schoolboys 15 Fiji Presidents XV 6, Australia Schoolboys 10 Fiji Schoolboys 3. (2008) Australia Schoolboys 24 Fiji Schoolboys 18. (2010) Australia Schoolboys 40 Fiji Schoolboys 0.