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The battle of Pacific heavyweights

Friday 20 November 2020 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Rugby Union, Sports

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The battle of Pacific heavyweights
The Fiji Residents versus Samoan Residents match will kick off at 5pm at Raemaru Park. (GRAPHICS: CHRIS ROWE / PICTURES: FRANCIS TOA)

Fireworks are expected on and off the field when arch-rivals Fiji takes on Samoa in the inaugural rugby series.

It’s do or die for Fiji Residents in the Tri-Nations rugby union series this afternoon.

After going down to Cook Islands Residents 10-15 in the opening match last week, the side faces a must win against Samoa Residents at Raemaru Park in Arorangi.

Fiji Residents assistant coach Eli Bendini believes they still have a chance.

“If we are able to beat Samoa then we are still in the series which will then be decided in the final match between Cook Islands and Samoa. So, we still have a chance,” Bendini said.

Individual play was one of the factors contributing to their loss against the home side, he said.

“We have worked on our weaknesses and players had an extra week to gel together so hopefully we play more as a team this week.”

Tupapa Panthers centre Tua Ravula has joined the Fijian side and Bendini said they would make four to five other changes for the Samoa match.

“It will be a tough match and we will give our best.”

Samoa Residents coach Okesene “Ox” Moananu expects a fiery Fijian side this afternoon.

“We are expecting nothing less than a tough match. They already got one game under their belt and they will surely bring a lot of physicality to the contest. They also have some dangerous runners and we have to be ready for that,” Moananu said.

Samoa has named a solid 23-member squad for this match with the likes of Afeleti Anau better known as Fereti Iona, Jeffrey Magele, Leki Heavula, Samu Alafua, Viiga Reupena, Sione Likiliki and Ailaoa Samania leading the charge.

Cook Islanders, the Nicholas brothers Clive and Lui, Agostini (Gas) Heather and Richard Piakura will also feature for the Samoans.

Moananu said: “We have a mixture of experienced players and also some boys who have been out of the game for a bit … we have really focused on players who can guide us when the pressure is on.”

Ben Koteka of Cook Islands Rugby Union said both teams have speed to burn however the pressure would be on Fiji to win.

“This should be an exciting contest between these two Pacific island super-powers. My prediction is for a high-scoring match and whoever dominates up front will win this match! Best of luck to both teams.”

Fixture

5pm Fiji Residents-Samoa Residents (Ref: Peter Godfrey, Assist. Refs: Paul Peyroux/Tua Ngaputa. In Goal: Martin Mitchell/Eddie Elisaia. Sub Bench: Dawn Crummer. Timing: Cathy Peyroux/Simi Teiotu)

Samoa Residents – 1. Toto’a Tuaia, 2. Agostini (Gas) Heather, 3. Jeffrey Magele, 4. Sione Likiliki, 5. Lui Nicholas, 6. Tautua Solomona, 7. Afeleti Anau (C), 8. Leki Heavula, 9. James Tofilau, 10. Turori Matutu, 11. Penitito Lio, 12. Richard Piakura, 13. Fale Sooialo, 14. Samu Alafua, 15. John Penu, 16. Faafoi Toilolo, 17. Likena Vaomotu, 18. Napa Tomokino, 19. Clive Nicholas, 20. John Pierre, 21. Viiga Reupena, 22. Ailaoa Samania, 23. Ilaisa Ravula.

Fiji Residents – 1. Jone Bogitini, 2. Clarke Ngaau, 3. Tulame Lewanavanua, 4. Jovelisi Duvuloco, 5. Mika Leawere, 6. Isimeli Ravula, 7. Jovilisi Nagitawa,

8. Lai Rogorogoivalu (Captain), 9. Rusiate Lima,  10. Kelepi Komaisavou, 11. Josh Koroi, 12. Seruvi Ralulu, 13. Tua Ravula, 14. Junior Buresova, 15. Teariki Matenga Jr, 16. Alasio Tabakau, 17. Saula Kuroqasi, 18. Barnes Nadroga, 19. Ratu Qio Tubuna, 20. Akariva Tuwalu, 21. Kavekini Mocedike, 22. Manasa Mateyawa, 23. Tubuna Nasivata.