Match report: Fiji hold Australia A
Staff
June 23, 2007

Fiji had to settle for a 14-14 draw against the Australia A team in Suva on Saturday and can count themselves unfortunate not to register a victory as Lachie Turner's score-levelling try came just two minutes from time.

This gutsy effort from Fiji in their last IRB Pacific Nations Cup match this season showed a mighty improvement over previous weeks' performances and certainly put a smile on coach Ilivasi Tabua's face.

In the seventh minute, speedy wing Filimone Bolavucu celebrated his Test debut with a dashing try from halfway after being set up by fullback Norman Ligairi. Bolavucu's team-mates from last year's triumphant Digicel Fiji 7s team, Jone Daunivucu (halfback) and Semisi Naevo (flanker) also played impressively.

Fiji led 7-3 at the break, and after the Australians had clawed their way back into the game with penalty goals from Cameron Shepherd (2) and Clinton Schifcofske, it was again Bolavucu who picked up a spilled ball in his own 22, shrugged off the would-be tacklers and galloped the length of the field to score his second try.

With a five-point lead and the pressure mounting, Fiji held off several waves of Australian attacks with some desperate tackling, but centre Turner finally crashed over in the corner and Schifcofske couldn't curl in the conversion.

Fiji skipper Kele Leaware insisted that the World Cup was a driving incentive for the players to perform well, "The World Cup is drawing near and everyone is fighting for a spot in the final squad so you can see that everyone played well today. I thanked the boys for a good game and even though we need to improve on some areas I'm glad that the boys put on a good fight till the last minute.

"The rotation of the players was great and now we know where we stand, it will be tough on the selectors to do their job."

Despite failing to down the South Sea Islanders, Australia A coach Laurie Fisher was full of praise for Fiji and offered some further advice.

"After last weekend's game, the boys were expected to improve on tackles and we know that Fiji were
hurting from the lost against Tonga so we were expecting a good game from them.

"We had to work on our defence, Fiji were tremendous throughout and have really improved, but they'll have to work on their set pieces. - line-outs and scrummaging is very important. They have good athletes and lots of character. Their No.12 kept disrupting our lines, penetrating the line."

Australia A skipper Alister Campbell added, "It was a tough game for us. The conditions really were tough compared to last week's game in New Zealand when it was cold.

"Today we really struggled to adapt to the weather. We struggled in the heat. Fiji have made a huge improvement in the last 12 months - compared to last year when we played them in Australia. We're disappointed with the score. We didn't execute our game plan and going forward we were disrupted most times."

Fiji tryscorer, Filimone Bolavucu, was delighted with his brace of scores, commenting, "I gave my best today for the fans and the country. I didn't want to disappoint them because Bobo and Caucau are not available so I had to give them hope.

"I came today believing in myself that I could also deliver. I had this one chance to prove myself to the selectors, so I had to give all that I've got."

Fiji:
15 Norman Ligairi, 14 Isoa Neivua, 13 Kameli Ratuvou (Gabiriele Lovobalavu 21-28), 12 Seru Rabeni,
11 Filimone Bolavucu, 10 Waisea Luveniyali (Sisa Waqa 78), 9 Jone Daunivucu (Mosese Rauluni 52), 8
Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Aca Ratuva (Dale Tonawai 50), 6 Semisi Naevo (yellow card 28-37), 5 Kele Leawere (capt), 4 Ifereimi Rawaqa (Peniasi Tokakece 74), 3 Henry Qiodravu (Apisai Turukawa 73), 2 Sunia Koto
(Vereniki Sauturaga 57), 1 Alefoso Yalayalatabua

Coach: Ilivasi Tabua

Tries: Bolavucu (2); Conversions: Luveniyali (2)

AUSTRALIA A: 15 Cameron Shepherd (Sam Norton-Knight 71), 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Junior Pelesasa, 12 Ryan Cross, 11 Lachie Turner (Clinton Schifcofske 52), 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Josh Valentine, 8 David
Lyons, 7 David Pocock, 6 Hugh McMeniman, 5 James Horwill (Jone Tawake 51), 4 Alister Campbell, 3 Nic Henderson (Gareth Hardy 40), 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau (Sean Hardman 44), 1 Rodney Blake (Dean Mumm 57)

Coach: Laurie Fisher

Not used: Josh Holmes

Try: Turner; Penalty goals: Shepherd (2), Schifcofske

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