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Fijians have potential to win in Cape Town

Kameli Rakoko
Friday, December 08, 2017

DESPITE bowing out in the semifinal against South Africa the Fiji Airways sevens team still showed they have great potential to win the Cape Town sevens this weekend or any other titles in the HSBC Sevens Series with an extra dose of Fijian aggression.

This is vital when we face Samoa, Wales and Canada in Cape Town as the Samoans under Gordon Tietjens have mastered the breakdowns.

Improved discipline on day two and great defence in chasing down the runners are the positives they can take out of the loss to two experienced teams in the circuit, South Africa and England, in Dubai.

With a lion's share of possession and their speedy runners the South Africans managed only two tries which came through two controversial rucks.

A relatively young side led by Olympians Jerry Tuwai, Jasa Veremalua and Vatemo Ravouvou will only have to tighten up on the breakdowns and try to dominate the tackled ball situations and rucks to get their nose in front of the best opposition out there including South Africa.

The semi-final loss came after Seabelo Senatla stole the ball from a tackled player in a ruck, Tuwai complained to the referee yet Senatla continued to run away to the tryline to score.

The second ruck, Tuwai seemed to have secured the ball from a tackled African player but the referee failed to react and Tuwai fell over, the Africans picked up to score.

In the 3rd and 4th place play-off England kicked off and caught Fiji napping as they did not lift anybody to secure the ball and England won back the ball and scored from Tim Bowen after Kalione Nasoko failed in his attempt to push the English winger over the line.

In the second kick-off Fiji won the ball in the kick-off after lifting Jerry Tuwai to secure possession.

Fiji scored again soon after an intercept from Vatemo Ravouvou.

But then two infringements in the breakdowns led to two consecutive tries by England the first of which was a beautiful offload from a tackled player on the deck to have the score 14-14 at half-time.

England won another penalty in the ruck and scored to lead 21-14 then an inter-passing outside and inside support play earned Bowen a second try.

Jo Vakurunabuli showed some exciting pace on the flank to score Fiji's final try.

A great loss to the side was the injury of Waisea Nacuqu and he was our trump card with his deceptive footwork and speed.

Baber should maintain this team to build up their combination and they were playing at about 70 to 80 per cent fitness and when the time comes to hit 100 per cent there definitely will be thrilling times to look forward to.

We can only guess here what would have happened had Nasilasila passed the ball to the Vatukarasa, Nadroga man in the final moments against South Africa. That we'll never know, but what we do know is that Vakurunabuli is the on-form paceman in the current lineup.

In the absence of Eroni Sau, suspended for two games for a high tackle against Wales, Gareth Baber used him on the wing and he has the physicality, the fend and aggression to score tries and make the breaks when things get tough in defence.

Baber may have to change his tactic against the South Africans because of the disparity in speed.

Instead of trying to run around them and make play the big Fijian forwards should run straight at them with close support left and right.

We cannot catch them for a proper tackle when they run with the ball but we definitely have the opportunity by bulldozing into them to show who's boss.

The other area our players can hurt them physically is in the rucks. Running in and slamming against them in the rucks, done legally, will rattle the composure and force them into mistakes.

Fiji's aggressive defence, done legally, will and always will be the tool to earn respect from any opposition.

We play into their hands by trying to outpace them as they are faster and our boys still new to the international sevens scene definitely had too much respect for South Africa who took advantage.

Tuwai has improved strength in bringing down bigger men but lost some pace and special training can help him attain both.

Our boys will have to realise that whoever they are playing are trying to deny them victory and when they lose their families back home go through tough times and they face bad press and words they do not want to hear from a fanatical Fijian crowd back home.

It's not a good motivational point to win us games but it is a fact of life they and every Fijian player has to live with
which is unfortunate. Go Fiji Go!








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