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The second 40

Manoj Kumar
Wednesday, January 30, 2013

AUCKLAND had just scored a remarkable 13-12 victory over the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand in May 1983.

A week later, the Kiwis were in Suva to play our national team.

Featuring big names like legendary first five Grant Fox, powerful centre Joe Stanley, high flying winger John Kirwan, the Whetton brothers Alan and Gary and lock Andy Haden, Auckland was a drawcard for local rugby fans with the Fiji Rugby Football Union expecting some 20,000 fans for the match at the National Stadium.

Former All Blacks coach John Hart was in charge of the star-studded team.

Sevens aces

Fiji named a strong line-up with several players who had featured for the national team in the abbreviated code in Hong Kong getting the call-up.

In were the late Senivalati Laulau (wing), Sani Tagivetaua (second five), the late Dominiko Manaseitava (wing), Acura Niuqila (first five), Paulo Nawalu (halfback) and Sela Gutugutuwai (flanker).

Completing the run-on team were Severo Koroduadua (fullback), Kaiava Salusalu (centre), Esala Teleni (number eight), Iokimi Finau (flanker), Nasoni Uluvula (lock), Koli Rakoroi (lock), Tiko Bulaonadi (prop), Rusiate Namoro (prop) and Peter Kean (hooker).

Early damage

Many expected a big win for the visitors and with Alwyn Harvey and his mates leading 18-3 at the break, the jam-packed stadium crowd feared the worst.

"We tackled Fiji out of the game early," Hart revealed afterwards.

"The plan was to ground them in the tackles and deny them the loose ball."

Two poor kicks resulted in tries to Auckland.

First Tagivetaua booted a tame up and under into the hands of the opposition.

Fiji was driven back to a lineout five metres from the line and Haden drove over in a maul.

Then Nawalu gifted Auckland possession with a poor kick which resulted in wing Gary Cunningham going on to score their second try.

The fightback

Auckland outmuscled us in the forwards and hit us hard with ferocious hits.

But the Fijians did not wilt away. They hit back with a far better 40 minutes after the break. From 3-18 down, we scored two tries and won the second half 15-12.

Auckland won 30-18 but our second half display brought smiles on the faces of the near 20,000 mainly Fiji fans.

In the end, both teams scored two tries each but we were beaten by Fox's boots.

He kicked five penalties, one drop goal and two conversions while Koroduadua booted two penalties and two conversions.

Spectacular try

The try of the match went to Fiji. Midway through the second spell, Fiji won a lineout on its own 10 metre line. Nawalu got the backline moving.

Koroduadua joined in, took a pass and fed Tagivetaua.

On it went to Manaseitava before the powerful Salusalu burst through the middle to run 40 metres to touch down.

Our second try was good too with Namoro scoring with an individual effort, running like a back.

Selector and former Fiji coach Arthur Jennings summed it up best: "They (Fiji) were playing an All Blacks pack".

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