Fiji successfully retained the Pacific Nations Cup when they beat Samoa by 26-16 at the ANZ National Stadium in Suva on Saturday.
The visitors were outscored by two tries to one in the end despite enjoying a 16-10 lead at half time.
However a brilliant second half performance from Fiji along with the educated boot of Fiji veteran Seremaia Bai helped the home side to snatch the match by a ten point margin and the Pacific Nations Cup for a second successive year.
The stalwart playmaker’s fine form from the tee saw him kick two conversions and four penalties as he took his personal tally to 16 points.
Tries for Fiji were scored by captain Sunia Koto and the match sealing 77th try from left wing Patrick Osborne while it was Motu Matuu (add more players) who crossed the whitewash for Samoa.
Not only did Sunwolves fly-half Tusi Pisi kick three penalties that handed the Samoans a comfortable 9-3 lead as the final ten minutes of the first half approached but the pivot made sure that the visitors were starved of the ball as Samoa made most of the plays.
This clever play from the number ten along some strong running from the visitors’ forwards allowed hooker Motu Matuu to crash over for the first try of the match while Koto crashed over in the last ten minutes of the first half which saw the scoreboard on 16-10, firmly in favour of Samoa as the players made their way into the tunnel.
Fiji, however, came out firing in the opening minutes of the second half, retaining the ball in excellent fashion this clinical display of skill and talent allwed the 37-year-old Bai to level the scores within the first ten minutes of the second 40 via two well directed penalties.
The moment of the match came three minutes from time when the Highlanders speedster dotted down for the home side and with that not only secured a 26-16 win for Fiji but also retain the Pacific Nations Cup title.
Tries: Koto, Osbourne
Cons: Bai 2
Pens: Bai 4
Yellow Card: Nayacalevu
Pens: Pisi 3
Fiji: 15 Samisoni Viriviri, 14 Waisea Nayacalevu, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Eroni Vasiteri, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Seremaia Bai, 9 Henry Seniloli, 8 Eremasi Radrodro, 7 Naulia Dawai, 6 Leone Nakarawa, 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Leeroy Atalifo, 2 Sunia Koto (c), 1 Campese Maáfu
Replacements: 16 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Taniela Koroi, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Mosese Voka, 21 Serupepeli Vularika, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Benito Masilevu
Samoa: 15 Albert Nikoro, 14 Faatoina Autagavaia, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Faialaga Afamasaga, 11 David Lemi (c), 10 Tusiata Pisi, 9 Dwayne Polataivao, 8 Alafoti Faosiliva, 7 Greg Foe, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Teofilo Paulo, 4 Faatiga Lemalu, 3 James Johnston, 2 Motu Matuu, 1 Sakaria Taulafo
Replacements: 16 Maatulimanu Leiataua, 17 Sam Aiono, 18 Census Johnston, 19 Jeff Lepa, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Pelefofoga Cowley, 22 Patrick Faapale, 23 Malu Falaniko
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle (England), James Leckie (Australia)