7 February, 2016, 12:00 am
SKIPPER Osea Kolinisau led the charge last night as the Vodafone Sevens side contained Argentina to top their pool heading into today’s quarter-finals.
Held 7-7 at halftime, Argentina again joined the number of top teams in the competition to have found the Archilles heel in Ben Ryan’s team.
They closed up the space with close marking and sure tackling, pinning the Fijians in their own half and forcing them into mistakes. However, our boys passed the gruelling test.
Kolinisau and his men replied in kind with aggresive defence which finally forced the Pumas into making unforced errors as the sting of the tackles made their mark.
Savenaca Rawaca was well contained with low tackles by the Pumas but eventually made the breaks in the second-half when they made the ball do the work.
While South Africa have shown a different level of fitness by sweeping away all opposition with ease, Fiji is still far from being in top form and fans can be satisfied with the fact that Ben Ryan’s men are just doing enough to stay in the race. They are following a well laid out plan.
Hitting peak form now could cause burnout when it’s time for the Rio Games.
Losing matches and tournaments should not cause panic and fans should understand what it is all about. The pressure on the team management could cause knee-jerk reactions just to please fans and in the end derail the whole process.
All Ryan, trainer Naca Cawanibuka and Kolinisau need now is support from Fiji fans and belief in their ability and their plans in the journey to Rio.
Semi Kunatani is slowly picking up form but is far from the devastating form he was in last season and so are the others like Pio Tuwai and Ice Katonibau.
Fiji downed Samoa in the opening match and paid the French back some sweet revenge with a 49-5 win.
France, with Naitasiri man Virimi Vakatawa, beat Fiji in the Cape Town quarter-finals. Vakatawa has been sorely missed by the French as he has been drafted into the fifteens team in the Six Nations and made his debut last night.
France ended up at the bottom of pool C after last night’s competition.
Junior Bulumakau and Nayacalevu are two crucial members of the Scotland team and the Fijians have been impressive so far.
Henry Speight was in action for Australia and slowly picking up form.
If Fiji gets past Kenya in the quarters and New Zealand in the semi-finals they could face South Africa in the final.
So far the Fijians have been using the short kick-off to try and regain possession but the long kick deep into the 22 metre area is a pressure kick-off and followed by a tight line of defence can cause all sorts of mistakes for the defending teams.
So far only New Zealand is continuously using the longkick-off while other teams are copying Fiji’s short kick-off style.
Fiji will have to play smart rugby and stay focused.
Teams trying to shut up the Fijian defence often leave open spaces behind them and kicking is the option.
Last week Jasa Veremalua set up Rawaca for a nice try after such a move and communication and “talanoa” in the ground is essential for Fiji and this breeds teamwork.
Without it will cause individualism and frustration.
But for now it is so far so good. Go Fiji go.