Fiji teams in learning experience after losses

Australian’s Jesse McLean offloads to his captain Harrison Hassett against Fiji during their U18 Vuvale Challenge Shield match at Albert Park in Suva. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

“If we want to be the best we have to play against the best and Australia is one of the best teams.”

Those were the words of the Fiji Schoolboys Under-18 Rugby League team manager Cabelawa Kotoimakogai after they were hammered 58-13 by the Australian Schoolboys side in the inaugural Vuvale Shield Challenge in Suva yesterday.

The Australian team was too strong for our Junior Bati team as they led 24-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Chris Faagutu scored two tries for the visitors in the first 10 minutes with one successful conversion and set the path for them scoring three more unconverted tries.

The Australians led 34-0 at halftime. Fiji had to play catch up rugby and in the second half poor handling cost the team greatly. Australia scored four converted tries in the third quarter.

In the last 15 minutes, Fiji gained their confidence and a field goal by Steven Gauna gave the Fijians their first points of the match.

A few minutes after the kick off the boys broke the defence line that resulted in a try to Gabriel Naliva and a successful conversion by Apimeleki Nasalo to trail 7-58.

Jone Ratuilolo scored Fiji’s second try following a kick and chase to give some respect to the scoreline.

“We came out strong in the last minutes of the game but it was too late for us,” Kotoimakogai said.

“The heat got in to them and they were just burning out and it was an advantage to us and the boys capitalised on that.”

Australian coach Tim Wykes said if Fiji had got some more early balls and had completed their sets, the score might have been a little different.

“We were down to 12 players in the end and had a few injuries, I had front rows in the centers, I had hookers in the wing but I am proud of the courage our boys showed despite the heat but also very proud of how Fiji came back so congratulations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Fiji schoolgirls side lost their match 48-0. The side trailed 24-0 at halftime.

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