Australia, Fiji & New Zealand kick off June with wins

Oceania Rugby, Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:57AM

Ray Lee-Lo on the charge in the PNC 2018 match against Fiji. (Source: ZoomFiji
The 13th World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup got under way in Suva on Saturday, with two close matches as Fiji kicked off their bid for a fourth successive title with a narrow victory over Samoa at the ANZ Stadium.

Samoa are preparing for a home-and-away Rugby World Cup 2019 play-off against the winner of next weekend’s European qualifier between Germany and Portugal. Samoa took the lead through a Tusi Pisi penalty,but were not in front for long as La Rochelle full-back Kini Murimurivalu scored the game’s opening try in the 25th minute. Fiji built a 17-3 half-time advantage in front of a passionate crowd in Suva.

Titimaea Tafua’s side did rally in the final quarter, but despite conceding three tries in that period Fiji were able to hold on to claim a 24-22 win that puts them in the box seat heading into the second and final round of games on 16 June.

Fiji 24 (Tries: Goneva, Murimurivalu, Seniloli, Volavola; Cons: Volavola 2)
def. Samoa 22 (Tries: Lam, Polataivaia, Matavao; Cons: Pisi, Tuala; Pens Pisi)

Georgia arrived at their first Pacific Nations Cup on a six-game winning run and demonstrated why during the opening half in Suva as Soso Matiashvili scored a scintillating solo try to help give his side a commanding lead at half-time.

Tonga’s scrum had improved steadily in the second period and with less than 10 minutes remaining a strong push allowed prop David Lolohea to score. Takalua missed his conversion, however, meaning ?Ikale Tahi would need two more scores to snatch victory.

David Halaifonua did score in the left corner before the end, thanks to a lovely pass from fly-half Kurt Morath, with Takulua’s conversion narrowing the gap to just a single point with time running out.

It proved too little too late, however, as Georgia were able to see out their first ever Pacific Nations Cup victory and seventh in a row in all competitions.

Georgia 16 (Tries: Matiashvili; Cons: Matiashvili; Pens: Matiashvili 3) def. Tonga 15 (Tries: Halaifonua, Lolohea; Cons: Morath; Pens: Takulua)

New Zealand Starting Brothers win at Eden Park
Beauden, Scott and Jordie Barrett were named in the starting XV at Eden Park on Saturday, the first time in All Blacks' history that three brothers are in a starting line-up. A slow start for the All Blacks saw the Frenchmen take an early lead curtesy of a Grosso try. Just before half time New Zealand looked set to cross for their second try until Sam Whitelock was held up over the line as the halftime siren sound and went into the break trailing the French outfit 8-11.

The second half looked set to repeat the close tough contest of the first until Guabrillagues was shown the yellow 10mins into the second and All Black debutant Karl Tu’inukuafe made his way to the field in the 46th min. Codie Taylor saw an opening in the man short French team to cross in the 52min before the flood gates opened and the All Black’s crossed a further six times to put the match well and truly out of reach for the visitors.

New Zealand 52 (Tries: Ioane, 2 B.Barrett, Taylor, Smith, McKenzie, Laumape, Savea; Cons: Barrett 3; Pens: Barrett 2) def. France 11 (TRIES: Grosso; Pens: Parra 2)

Australia Proves Unlucky for The Irish
The Qantas Wallabies defeated Ireland 18-9 in an enthralling opening Test at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. The Wallabies scored two tries and held the visitors try-less in a fierce contest. It was Ireland’s first defeat in 13 Test matches and Wallabies flanker David Pocock was immense in his return to International Rugby scoring the match-winning try inside the final eight minutes of the contest.
Australia was the first to score in the match, through a Bernard Foley penalty goal after three minutes. Ireland flyhalf, Joey Carbery struck back 10 minutes later to level the scores and gave Ireland the lead in the 26th minute with his second penalty strike. The Wallabies eventually cracked the Irish defence when Foley dived over in the corner after a strong carry from Samu Kerevi to set up an 8-6 advantage at the break.

Ireland had a chance to hit back early in the second half but a desperate tackle from Wallabies wingers Dane Haylett-Petty and Marika Koroibete prevented CJ Stander from grounding the ball. Carbery wrested the lead back for Ireland with another penalty in the 55th minute, then the Wallabies were denied a go-ahead try when an Israel Folau try was overturned after Adam Coleman was found to have taken a player out without the ball. Just over ten minutes later, Wallabies Captain Michael Hooper gambled with a quick tap after being awarded a penalty close to the line and Pocock crashed over from close range to cap a powerful display.

Australia 18 (Tries: Foley, Pocock; Cons: Foley; PENS: Foley 3) def. Ireland 9 (PENS: Carbery 3)
Last updated: Monday June 18, 2018 10:08AM