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Our dream run ends

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam Nadawa, Nasinu
Monday, November 27, 2017

Down to four teams and with just two games away from lifting rugby league's most elusive prize, Fiji, Tonga, Australia and England knew very well what to expect in the semis.

Regardless of the outcome of the semi-final against Australia and England, the Pacific Islanders' wins over NZ meant that the tier 2 nations took home a decent slice of the glory pie.

Eyes were on our warriors to spring another shock! However, the Fiji vs Australia semi-finals at the previous two RLWCs produced wince-inducing scorelines, with the Kangaroos romping home 52-0 in 2008 and 64-0 in 2013. But diehard fans brushed aside previous records such was the depth and versatility in the Bati.

Many thought an upset was on the card. The Bati, who lit up the competition with their previous performances, ran into a Kangaroo-shaped wall. We got a try, which is more than what most teams at the RLWC managed, and very nearly had two, but we were outclassed by the world's best team.

Australia played delicious rugby and dominated possession, made fewer errors and missed less tackles compared with our boys.

Likewise, winger Valentine Holmes had a superb outing as he created history by scoring six tries, just a week after registering five tries against Samoa.

The Australian bullets in Slater, Dugan, Cronk, Smith, Gillett and Gagai were too powerful and heavy for our boys, who are getting used to playing tier 1 nations but were brave and threw everything. Our courageous warriors must be praised for their performance as they played until the final whistle.

The Kangaroos put up a stunning display and put to rest predictions of an upset. Prolific try scorer Holmes later described the Roos as an unbelievable team. Earlier in the week, building up to the battle, coach Mal Meninga had voiced his displeasure at his team's training standards and perhaps we got carried away and when the Bati opened the scoring with a penalty goal, we had a lot to smile about but I guess that was all.

The end result is not in our favour but I am proud of the progress of our side.

We hardly get an opportunity to play tier 1 nations and if we can play them regularly then we should be able to narrow the gap, just as the Tongans did against England, taking the English to the wire, only to lose in the dying seconds after a controversial call.

Vinaka vakalevu Fiji and Tonga for your magnificent efforts!

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