Getting behind the Bati
20 November, 2017, 12:00 am
What a beauty! New Zealand Kiwis coach David Kidwell obviously did not have it written in his script.
The Kiwis should have won a spot in the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup 2017.
They should have been the ones earmarked to play Australia this week. Kidwell planned for the downfall of the Bati on Saturday night.
It was obvious he wanted his pack to crush the Bati defensive wall in the leading tackle counts. He would have ordered his big men to soften us in the middle of the field, testing our defensive resolve and our confidence.
He probably expected that somewhere in the middle of the first spell, his halves of Te Maire Martin and Shaun Johnson would have found chinks in our armour and dictated play around that.
He probably expected the Bati to wilt under the concentration of attacks in the leading tackle counts and our attacks effectively nullified by the Kiwis’ big men upfront such as Adam Blair at lock forward, Simon Mannering at second row and hard running Sydney Roosters’ front rower Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
National coach Mick Potter and skipper Kevin Naiqama had other ideas. The Bati wall held, and driven on by the vocal support in Wellington, it rocked the Kiwis.
It was good to see our line-breakers Ashton Simms and Eloni Vunakece running strong lines on attack.
Second rowers Viliame Kikau on the left edge and Brayden Wiliame on the right edge played their enforcer roles in defence to perfection. They attacked with enthusiasm and were hard men to stop. Lock forward Tui Kamikamica connected the dots so to speak in attack, maintaining momentum and was strong in defence.
Taane Milne our right edge centre and Akuila Uate our left edge centre were powerful inside their respective wingers, Suliasi Vunivalu on the right edge and Marcelo Montoya on the left edge. Naiqama was strong under the high ball at full-back and added thrust on attack.
There can be no doubts though about the impact our halves Henry Raiwalui and Jarryd Hayne had on the game. They called the shots. They delayed passes just long enough and picked out runners under great pressure. They were constantly talking on the field and obviously had a positive impact on how our attacks shaped up.
Then there was our star hooker in Apisai Koroisau.
He was strong in attack and was a power pack in defence. He was aggressive and enthusiastic, holding up our defence on the fringes of the ruck, and had good peripheral vision on attack. The win over the Kiwis is now history.
We have climbed the first major mountain we planned to conquer. This week we face our toughest test in this World Cup. We take on the might of world champions Australia on Friday. We believed in our Bati before the game against the Kiwis. We believed we had the team to topple the Kiwis. This week is about carrying that across to Australia. It is about us lifting our team to reach out for the stars against a very strong Kangaroos side. There were many positives from the Kiwis game that fans will hope Potter will address before the game against the Kangaroos.
Go Fiji, go.