VenueTeufaiva Stadium, Nuku'alofa
Kick Off Time
12:00pm (Local), Saturday, 16 May 2009
Rusiate Matai scored two late tries to give Fiji Barbarians a first win of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2009 as the visitors to the Teufaiva Stadium in the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa ran out 26-15 winners over the Tau'uta Reds.
The Barbarians - Fiji's Under 20 side who are using the competition to prepare for the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship in Japan next month - had seen their advantage cut to just one point before the full back's brace of unconverted tries.
Twenty-one minutes had passed before scrum half Kolinio Vunaki scored the first points of the match with a penalty for the Barbarians, but within minutes the home side hit back with full back Foukimoana Katoa's try, converted by Vaea Poktei.
It was the Barbarians who went in leading at half time though after hooker Waisea Daveta's late try was converted by Vunaki to make it 10-7 in their favour. The visitors would also start the second half with a man advantage after Siosefa Tu'akoi's yellow card.
Must win game
The Barbarians failed to add to their tally while Tu'akoi was off the field, but within minutes of his return his teammate Sione Timani headed to the sin-bin and this time they did with two more Vunaki penalties.
After a raft of replacements, fly half Poteki boosted Tau'uta Reds' hopes of a victory with a penalty before scoring a try on the hour mark. However his missed conversion left the Reds trailing by a point at 16-15.
Those hopes of a home win were ended by Matai's late double as the Barbarians banished the disappointment of heavy defeats by Fiji Warriors (47-8), Uplou Samoa (49-13) and a narrow loss against Savai'i Samoa 23-17 with a first victory in 2009.
In the end the young men have grabbed the elusive win and this will do their confidence the world of good. Playing international rugby is a different maturity to local stuff most of these young men have been seeing up until now. They have been beaten quite well in the games so far, but in each match have shown more and more fight as they go along, now they have sampled a win and will look for next weeks fixture on home turf as the icing for a great season.
The team has grown as a unit and the Fiji Rugby Union will be very happy to see the investment in tomorrow manning up.