Fiji start World Cup campaign with a win over Ireland

Kevin Naiqama

Boasting a side full of NRL experience, the Fijians overpowered an exciting Irish side, to kickstart their World Cup campaign with a win – after their 32-14 win over the Irish.

It was two Newcastle players that shone, with Akuila Uate nabbing a hat-trick and Kevin Naiqama producing a man-of-the-match performance to guide the Fiji Bati home.

With a tough match against the Kangaroos coming up, Fiji Bati coach Rick Stone says he wants a more polished performance from his players, knowing full well what the Australian side are capable of.

“The important thing tonight was to get a win,” Stone said.

“It was probably pretty ugly at times but the intent was great.

“At times we defended a little bit spasmodically and with too much emotion.

With the Island nations pleased to have the opportunity to play at and be represented at a World Cup, emotion can sometimes get the better of them and for Stone, he knows they have to curb this against the better sides.

“There was plenty of emotion in the game from our boys and that’s something we’ve got to control in the future if we’re going to be competitive against the better sides.”

With both Australian coach Tim Sheens and Scottish coach Steve McCormack both watching on, the game itself was an entertaining one and in front of a full-house, capacity crowd at Sportland Stadium – a crowd of 8800.

Whilst pleased with the efforts of his side, veteran Petero Civoniceva knows they played well but they have to be smarter and better moving forward.

“We’ve got to be a bit smarter with it but overall I’m very pleased with the efforts from the boys,” Civoniceva said.

To compound the loss for the Irish, talented fullback Scott Grix will undergo scans after an injury.

“He’ll go for a scan tomorrow,” Ireland coach Mark Aston said.

“It’s a short turnaround but we’ll patch them up and go again. We’re in the hardest group but we’ll look forward to it.”

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