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Warriors battle

Maikeli Seru
Monday, February 05, 2018

FIJI Airways 7s coach Gareth Baber labelled the semi-final win against hosts New Zealand as the "battle of courage" to see who qualified for the final of the Hamilton 7s in New Zealand yesterday.

Fiji ousted favourites and home boys New Zealand from the inaugural tournament to bring back the ghosts of 2000 when Fiji won the first Wellington 7s in style.

Fiji won 14-12 yesterday, but the feat was not easy to attain.

Fiji started the match with a try to prop Josua Vakurinabili after he finished off Alusio Naduva's 30 metre break one minute from start.

Amenoni Nasilasila converted for Fiji's 7-0 lead.

The Fiji vs New Zealand match was fast and physical and the hosts kept on fighting and were rewarded with a try to Scott Curry. Fiji 7- 5 NZ.

Seconds before the break, our own Viliame Koroi goosed his way through the Fijian defence to put the Kiwis in a 12-7 lead at half time.

The Fijians were boosted with the Fijian flags and the sea of blue and white around the ground and the 23,500 capacity stadium.

They fought hard with Olympians Jasa Veremalua and Vatemo Ravouvou coming in the second spell.

A minute to end, Baber's men built strong defence and retaliated with individual brilliance to break New Zealand's defence. Mesulame Kunavula scored the winner for 14-12 seconds before end to qualify and meet South Africa in the final.

"We are pleased with what we put together in a tough encounter. We knew it was going to be physical and we have two lots of fans out there which we went against," Baber said.

"We raised the tempo of the game and we used a lot of energy and it was good for a win."

"It is the way we play and everyone know that when they play against Fiji, it is going to be a battle.

"We were disappointed last week that we did not produce that twice.

"Our aim is every game we play we put everything that we can possibly. Sometimes we come up a team that is better than you, but scoring tries is a big emphasis of ours."

He said South Africa would be tough.

"We are in good shape. The two teams produce two different types of rugby and we are prepared to bring our game, the Fijian style, with high tempo and lots of energy. We got to be accurate.

"If we do that we are a hard team to stop.

"Mentally, we have to be right for the final and this team has scraped its way through some of the games."

Meanwhile, Sevuloni Mocenacagi has been suspended for two matches for dangerous play during the quarter-final against Samoa.

Baber said Alusio Naduva would miss the final because of an injury.

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