Fiji too good for Canada
MATCH REPORT: Fiji produced too much power and pace for Canada scoring six tries to one in a 38-13 thumping in their Pacific Nations Cup clash in Suva on Saturday.
It was a morale-boosting performance for the defending champions after they lost to Japan last week, while it was the second defeat for Canada who were soundly beaten by the USA in the first round.
Earlier Saturday, a late penalty by AJ MacGinty kept the USA Eagles unbeaten when they overcame Samoa 13-10.
The Eagles play Japan and Fiji face Samoa in the final round next weekend.
With the focus on the looming World Cup and the need to test combinations, it was a vastly different Fiji side that faced Canada with only three forwards retaining their places and Racing 92 lock Leone Nakarawa captain for the first time.
While Canada enjoyed the best of possession and territory it was the solid Fijian pack that controlled the breakdown.
New halves pairing Henry Seniloli and Josh Matavesi added direction to the islanders’ trademark flair, however, coach John McKee said it was still not the finished product.
“On the scoreboard, a good score-line, but we’re a little bit disappointed today that we couldn’t really build our continuity to really put Canada under pressure, we took our opportunities, but we also turned over quite a lot of ball,” he said.
Canada coach Kingsley Jones saw an improvement in his side since their performance against USA, but added they needed more time together.
“Unfortunately we conceived points from our own set-pieces,” he said.
“We put Fiji under pressure, we got field position, but unfortunately we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities.”
After an early Shane O’Leary penalty for Canada, Viliame Mata, Peceli Yato, and Nakarawa responded with tries for Fiji in the first half before Canada scored against the run of play when Kainoa Lloyd crossed the line from an intercept.
In the opening minutes of the second half prop Peni Ravai and right wing Josua Tuisova barrelled their way over the line to cement Fiji’s lead, before Mesulame Dolokoto added a further try in the closing stages.
In the early match at the Suva National Stadium, the Sale Sharks fly-half MacGinty scored all of the points for the USA Eagles with a converted try and penalty in the first half and his match-winning shot at goal at the end.
But while the Eagles controlled much of the game they were rarely able to convert their dominance into points — leading coach Gary Gold to say they have “a long way to go” before the World Cup.
“Samoa put us under a lot of pressure. Our set-piece didn’t function as well as I would have liked it to function and our attack as well.”
Samoa coach Steve Jackson was also disappointed, saying the Pacific islanders “can’t afford to make that many mistakes in a game and not capitalise on the pressure that we had.
“Our game drivers need to put us in the right places of the field to keep our guys moving forward, so we will work on that.”
MacGinty, one of the few survivors in a vastly rearranged USA side following their 47-19 disposal of Canada, had them on the board with a handy penalty in the third minute.
Samoa struck back almost immediately when AJ Alatimu set Alapati Leiua up for a simple try against a non-existent defence.
The Americans responded with MacGinty’s try and there were no further points for more than 50 minutes when a Henry Taefu penalty brought Samoa level at 10-10, only for MacGinty to strike back to claim the win.