Fiji takes Pacific Rim with victory over Samoa

TOKYO, Reuters

Fiji’s pace and power proved too much for Samoa as they ran out 28-17 winners in the final of the Pacific Rim Championship on Sunday.

Flyhalf Nicky Little kicked seven penalties and finished with 23 points as Fiji punished some indisciplined defending from Samoa at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground in Tokyo.

And when centre Alfred Uluinayau touched down for a 50th-minute try — converted by Little — Fiji looked to have the game wrapped up with a 22-9 lead.

Samoan winger Afato So’oalo gave the defending champions some hope of getting back into the match when he bulldozed over the line seven minutes later.

But the Fiji pack continued to dominate and win valuable possession, forcing the Samoans to give away two penalties midway through the second half, which Little put away. “Fiji has been perceived as being in the shadow of Samoa, but today we showed the world that Fiji are the best team in the Pacific,” said Fiji captain Greg Smith. “We lost to a superior team today. Fiji showed they have got some of the best athletes in the world. If you don’t get enough ball against Fiji they will destroy you,” said Samoa’s assistant coach and former All Black Michael Jones.

Earlier, winger Toru Kurihara scored 24 points — including two second-half tries — as hosts Japan thrashed Canada 39-7 to win the third-place playoff and finish the tournament on a high.

Number eight Yuya Saito, centre Hideki Namba and lock Luatangi Vatuvei also ran in tries as Japan dominated every facet of the game against a Canadian side which made a rash of handling and kicking errors in the humid conditions.