World Cup - Fiji secure opening win

Sat, 10 Sep 06:27:00 2011

Fiji ran in six tries as they triumphed 49-25 over Namibia, the lowest-ranked team at the World Cup, in their opening match at the Rotorua International Stadium.

Fiji's Vereniki Goneva runs with the ball on his way to scoring a try during their Rugby World Cup Pool D match against Namibia at Rotorua International Stadium - 0

Vereniki Goneva (pictured) scored a first-half hat-trick and added another in the second half while Leone Nakarawa and Napolioni Nalaga were also on the scoresheet for the Pacific Islanders.

Theuns Kotze kicked a hat-trick of drop-goals in three minutes early on for Namibia. Their try scorers in the second half were Heinze Koll and Chrysander Botha.

In an open game full of defensive holes, both sides impressed in attack. Namibia, 20th in the IRB rankings, were surprisingly fluid while the Fijians displayed their famous brand of powerful running rugby, often on the counter-attack.

Fly-half Kotze opted to go for goal from close to his own 10-metre line in the third minute, but it was not the foolhardy decision it appeared as he sent it between the posts for the early lead. However Fiji hit back immediately, Goneva finishing off a counter set up by No.10 Waisea Luveniyali.

After Seremaia Bai slotted the conversion came the three drop-goals of Kotze, one from middle-range, one from close in and the third a flat effort from a long way out.

The fast action continued. Three minutes later, on 17 minutes, Bai sent over a penalty - and a minute after that a counter which took in Nemia Kental and Bai was finished off by Nakarawa for a converted try.

And the score was 22-12 a minute further on as a Kental up-and-under following kick-off was not defended properly and Goneva raced away down the right to score.

There was a penalty for each side before the 40 minutes were up - but Goneva was not finished, tearing free down the right again to score in injury-time, with Bai continuing the excellent kicking statistics.

Namibia came out strongly and had a try within three minutes through second row Koll. The excellent outside centre Daniel van Wyk broke out of defence and passed inside to supporting wing Conrad Marais, who placed the ball to set up the next phase of the attack. That ended with a fabulous dummy from Koll to find a path to the line.

That put Namibia within 12 points of Fiji at 32-20, but they would never seriously threaten the result. Fijian outside centre Gabirieli Lovobalavu almost extended the advantage again, but went down following an ankle tap - Goneva was there to pick up and score with Bai converting again.

Full-back Chrysander Botha scored a try on 57 minutes after good work by Namibia playmaker Kotze, but that was the end of their scoring.

A Bai penalty from distance with six minutes left was followed soon after by a brilliant try for Fiji's other wing Napolioni Nalaga, taking the ball out of the ruck and streaking down the left touchline to power over in the corner.

Bai bent over an excellent conversion to move Fiji within a point of the half-century, but they were unable to cross that threshold in the closing stages.

SCORING TIMELINE:

3' Kotze penalty: Namibia 3-0

5' Goneva try: Fiji 5-3

6' Baikeinuku conversion: Fiji 7-3

10' Kotze drop goal: Fiji 7-6

12' Kotze drop goal: Namibia 9-7

14' Kotze drop goal: Namibia 12-7

16' Baikeinuku penalty: Namibia 12-10

18' Nakarawa try: Fiji 15-12

18' Baikeinuku conversion: Fiji 17-12

19' Goneva try: Fiji 22-12

24' Baikeinuku penalty: Fiji 25-12

36' Kotze penalty: Fiji 25-15

40' Goneva try: Fiji 30-15

40' Baikeinuku conversion: Fiji 32-15

42' Koll try: Fiji 32-20

51' Goneva try: Fiji 37-20

52' Baikeinuku conversion: Fiji 39-20

56' Botha try: Fiji 39-25

74' Baikeinuku penalty: Fiji 42-25

77' Nalaga try: Fiji 47-25

77' Baikeinuku conversion: Fiji 49-25

Jonathan Symcox - on Twitter: @jonathansymcox / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account