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Win at last

Rashneel Kumar
Monday, November 26, 2012

THE Flying Fijians fought tooth and nail to secure their first win in their final northern hemisphere tour match against Georgia early yesterday morning.

The Inoke Male-coached side scraped through to beat the spirited Georgians 24-19 to end their poor annual tour campaign on a high note.

Number eight Iliesa Ratuva and inside centre Vereniki Goneva crossed over for a try each in the opening spell but that didn't help the Flying Fijians as they trailed 18-19 at the break.

Blindside flanker Api Naikatini, who did well in the opening tour match against England, led the team down after being sin binned in the first half.

But an outstanding performance from fly-half Jonetani Ralulu, who kicked two penalty goals in the second spell, secured the much needed win.

The Nadroga player, who scored 14 points in the game, was later named the man of the match.

Fiji team manager Aseri Rokoura told The Fiji Times the national side put on a much improved performance against Georgia.

Rokoura said they were impressed with the consistent scrum and set piece play from the Ireland A game.

"Georgia came out strongly as they had very physical front row, players who have been playing in France," Rokoura said.

"But there was some improvement noted in the scrums and set piece play in the game. However, there is a big room for improvement and coach Inoke Male knows that and he will be working on those areas."

The Flying Fijians were grounded against England following a 12-54 loss.

The side lost to Gloucester 29-32 before being hammered 0-53 by Ireland A.

Rokoura believes the "poor" performance of the national team at this year's northern hemisphere tour will not impact the quality of international matches lined up for next year.

He said with the Pacific Nations Cup and a match against the Barbarians fixed for 2013, they would be able to secure some quality matches in the end of the year tour to the northern hemisphere.

"The northern hemisphere tour is for exposing our local boys and I think the result of this tour will not affect the quality of teams we will play in the tour next year," Rokoura.

"We played three matches in eight days and there was this weather factor that got into us but I think that's not an excuse for the poor outing during this tour."

Rokoura hoped the hard fought win against Georgia would improve the national teama rankings by a spot from the current 14th place.

The local-based Flying Fijians will arrive home on Wednesday morning while the overseas-based players have joined their clubs.

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