Motivating the Bati

We walloped Italy 38-10 on Friday night and even had our star five eight Jarryd Hayne sin-binned. But not before the Italians showed the Fiji Bati what an intense and focused defence can do to nullify our attacks in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Until then, we were the pin-up boys when it came to attacking sides. We were the side to emulate and work hard to beat.

We were on fire. We walloped the USA 58-12 and thrashed Wales 72-6 in our opening games.

The writing was on the wall it seemed. We were ear-marked to wallop Italy.

Nobody told the Italians that though.

They came out with all guns firing. They quickened play around the ruck, slowed our game down considerably and nullified our attacking game, well until halftime really.

They threw in a few emotional moments, and someone would have probably whispered there were rough-house tactics somewhere there to keep the Bati under wraps.

The curtains came down though in the second spell, and the Bati rode on the back of a more spirited challenge.

Our pack were enthusiastic in the leading tackle counts, and our backline functioned like a well oiled machine.

Confidence, it seems, can be very appealing.

We are now booked for the quarter-finals.

It isn’t going to be a stroll in the park from here on.

How we fare will no doubt be determined by how much we want to win the game.

Our neighbours Tonga proved confidence and self-belief, of course with a few emotional aspects thrown in, can do wonders.

Tonga became the first tier-two rugby league nation in history to defeat a tier-one nation.

They defeated New Zealand 28-22 in style.

Trailing 16-2 at the break, Tonga came clean in the second half to score four tries.

Andrew Fifita, Fusitu’a, Jason Taumalolo, Manu Ma’u and Sio Siua Taukeiaho showed how much experience rates at this level of the competition.

Everything went wrong in the second half for NZ.

Tonga, however, showed us how it can be done.

They took the game to the Kiwis, and came off with a blinder, defeating NZ in a powerful show of resilience, power and perseverance.

As we now gear up to take on the might of the Kiwis, the onus is now on national coach Mick Potter to chart a path that will take us past them.

Tonga showed it can be done. We have the calibre of players who can make it happen. We have a mobile pack that is slowly coming of age, and a backline to die for, held together by a halves combination that is starting to fire up.

Nothing comes easy though. It is going to be a massive mountain to climb when we play the quarter-final against the Kiwis this weekend.

The Kiwis will be keen to make amends. They will be fired up. They will not want a repetition of the shock loss to Tonga. It is now about motivation, self-belief and having the confidence to reach out for the stars. Go Fiji, go.

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