Editorial comment – All eyes forward
12 August, 2019, 12:11 pm
That was too close for comfort on Saturday at the national stadium in Suva.
Manu Samoa were on fire.
It seemed they were better prepared for our Flying Fijians than we were for them.
They would have topped the count on possession and territory, especially in the last quarter of the second spell.
They had options at first receiver that kept us under pressure.
They retained possession well, recycled this to great effect, and kept our line under pressure.
While fans would have been content to come off with the 10-3 win, sceptics would have been concerned by the tight game and our effort so close to the Rugby World Cup.
National coach John McKee would have come off with a number of positives though.
We managed to try out variations in our lineout, we placed our front row under real-time pressure which can only be good for us in the lead-up to the RWC in Japan.
Our defence functioned well under sustained pressure from a side that was aggressive as well as creative on attack.
It was a good test for our defensive shape, in general play and in the lineouts.
Our attacking options were stretched to the limit by a committed Samoan defence which effectively placed pressure on how well we were recycling possession and our options at halfback and five eight.
The next game against Tonga is our final opportunity to see how our options function under real time situations.
Fans will, no doubt, be keen to see how McKee factors the lessons learnt on Saturday, and embrace our needs before we take on the might of Australia in our opener at the RWC in Japan on September 21.
Understandably the Wallabies’ 47-26 victory over the New Zealand All Blacks at the weekend places them on a high plane heading into the RWC.
But it’s the RWC and anything can happen.
That’s the big one, the ultimate goal for all teams.
That’s the one players dream of participating in.
It’s the premier event the best players around the world want to be seen at, to live their dreams, and reach out for the skies against the best.
It’s the culmination of years of training, playing tough matches around the world, shedding blood, sweat and tears.
When all things are said and done, the RWC is an event rugby fans and players alike look forward to for a feast of great matches.
Besides it comes around once every four years.
That’s why, to a certain extent, while results in the lead-up to the event may be highly appreciated, it sometimes may even be about teams coming to the event with their A-game, finding form and that game plan to topple their opposition.
Perhaps if we are searching for inspiration, we can’t go past that amazing win at the Rio Olympic Games over Great Britain this month in 2016.
We sort of maintained a brave outlook, fingers crossed, not wanting to jinx our campaign, yet silently were confident we could topple the best in the world, and do the unthinkable — win gold in the premier sporting event on the planet.
All the best and most up-to-date and high-tech machines and diets, on top of millions of dollars on preparation fell to a team that honed its skills and fitness at the energy-sapping Sigatoka sand dunes.
The two games differ greatly, yet there are also similarities.
We say go Fiji, go.