19 November, 2017, 12:00 am
WE put God first in everything we do.
Those were the words of Vodafone Fiji Bati captain Kevin Naiqama after Fiji beat all odds to beat the much fancied world number two New Zealand 4-2 in the Rugby League World Cup quarter-final last night.
A stunned Westpac Stadium witnessed the physical and gruelling encounter that left the Fijian fans dancing and Kiwi fans disappointed.
The most disappointed was probably Kiwis coach David Kidwell and captain Adam Blair who were quite emotional in the post match press conference.
Kidwell said his side did not play smart.
“Yes we didn’t get results we wanted. The boys have created the result and passion for their jersey, the standards.
“This was definitely one of the most enjoyable campaigns I have been part of. Unfortunately we did not get the results we wanted today.”
Blair was asked why he was emotional and he replied: I am proud to be a Kiwi that’s why I am emotional.
Throughout the week, Fiji Bati coach Mick Potter was asked how Fiji would contain the bigger NZ pack.
Potter’s response was Fiji’s defence was not as strong as its attacking abilities but if the defence could hold for 80 minutes then it should do the job.
Not an Einstein but that is how the game went with Fiji making a crucial decision in the first half to kick a penalty goal.
The side, though almost the same outfit from the last three matches, was different last night.
They were determined and though they looked lethargic in the last 10 minutes of the match, they held on as NZ repeatedly attempted their tryline.
NZ equalised the scores early in the second half.
Ironically, NZ-born and former Junior Kiwis player Taane Milne put Fiji in the front with another penalty goal.
Five eighth Jarryd Hayne played one of his best matches so far. The forwards in Eloni Vunakece, Ashton Sims, Viliame Kikau, Tui Kamikamica were on point.
Super winger Suliasi Vunivalu had a quiet night.