Fiji open World Cup campaign with win

By Greg Taipari of the Daily Post -
Vereniki Goneva, middle, of Fiji is congratulated by teammates after scoring against Namibia. Photo / Getty Images
Vereniki Goneva, middle, of Fiji is congratulated by teammates after scoring against Namibia. Photo / Getty Images

Fiji 49 Namibia 25

A quartet of tries to Fijian winger Vereniki Goneva has given the Pacific Island state its first win at this year's Rugby World Cup win.

Fiji has sent a warning to their Rugby World Cup opponents - watch out - after their 49-25 win over Namibia today.

More than 10,000 excited rugby fans were on hand to watch Fiji and Namibia open their Rugby World Cup account on a perfect playing pitch in ideal conditions at the Rotorua International Stadium.

Right from the kick off it appeared Fiji looked to keep away from the normal expansive game using their forwards to bust it up one or two out from the ruck, however an infringement two-and-a half minutes into the match at the breakdown gave Namibian first-five Theuns Kotze a penalty opportunity 55m out from the Fijian line which he nailed.

But two minutes later, Namibia unable to secure the kick off where punished by Fiji who found space out wide for Fijian flyer Vereniki Goneva to go in on the right hand flank untouched for the first of his four tries and for Seremaia Bai to convert.

Namibia were the next to score after Fijian half back Nemia Kenatale couldn't clear from a 5m lineout. Namibia moved it to the centre where Kotze nailed a 30m drop goal.

Namibia's plan was simple, use the long raking right foot of Kotze to find territory for the first five to put points on the board with his deadly right foot drop goals.

The African side soon found themselves leading 12-7 with 15 minutes on the clock.
However Fiji had other plans and started running it back at Namibia and were rewarded with tries to lock Leone Nakarawa and two more to Goneva.

Namibia were spirited throughout the first half looking to be aggressive with ball in hand but Fiji matched that aggression and managed to shut down any real attacking opportunity. It eventually came down to Kotze's boot to keep Namibia in the game with three drop goals and two penalties to go into the break 32-15.

Namibia needed to score first after the break and managed it two minutes into the second half when centre Danie Van Wyk busted the Fijian defence which was finished off by lock Heinz Koll.

The try lifted Namibia and rattled Fiji for a short period but then the mercurial Goneva stepped in and scored his fourth try under the posts, which Bai easily converted to make the score 39-20.

Namibia never gave up and with 55 minutes on the clock opted for a lineout inside Fiji's 22 instead of the kick. They worked a slick back line move for fullback Chrysander Botha to go over in the corner.

The African's second try seemed to inspire the team to spin the ball, Botha was inspirational and fearless constantly running the ball back at the Fijians.

One of his runs sparked an 80m attack which eventually was stopped short of the line.

For the last 10 minutes Fiji struggled to get any quality attacking ball eventually resorting to a 42m penalty by Bai to make the game safe.

The kick seemed to be the spark Fiji needed. The team rallied and built pressure to eventually score a try to left winger Naipolioni Nalaga and Bai to convert to eventually end the game 49-25.

Fiji 49 (Vereniki Goneva 4, Leone Nakaraw, Naipolioni Nalaga tries; Seremaia Bai 5 conversions, 3 penalties), Namibia 25 (Heinz Koll, Chrysander Botha tries; Theuns Kotze 2 penalties, 3 dropped goals). HT: 32-15

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