FORCE SOAR IN FIRST GAME OF THE GLOBAL RAPID RUGBY PACIFIC SHOWCASE SERIES
The Western Force have made a perfect start to their Global Rapid Rugby Pacific Showcase campaign with a 12 point victory against Fijian Latui at Churchill Park, Fiji.
While both sides managed three tries apiece, the Force were able to maintain a solid lead throughout the majority of the game with AJ Alatimu’s kicking accuracy helping the Force to a 27-15 win.
The attacking threat posed by Fijian Latui was evident early when John Stewart broke away to set up Frank Lomani after just five minutes.
Though the home fans were hoping there would be more of that action to come, due to a lack of ball retention and discipline, the Fijian Latui curtailed their usual free-flowing style.
The first of two yellow cards for the Fijian Latui side gave the Force a huge advantage and allowed a quick-thinking Issak Fines to race through for a rapid try. Fines proving himself a dangerous operator with the ball in hand and had one of his best performances in the ocean blue jersey.
AJ Alatimu’s day started well with the number 10 nailing the conversion in what would set the tone for a perfect day with the boot.
The Fijian’s could have taken back the lead following an intuitive intercept by Ifereimi Tovilevu, but the normally reliable hand of John Stewart let him down and he lost the ball forward with the try line just 15 meters away.
That hurt the home side, particularly when not long after Force youngster Jack McGregor extended the lead, dotting down next to the post after some great build-up play from the forwards at the scrum.
As the clock neared half time a silly penalty from Fijian Latui gave the Western Force an easy shot on goal and Alatimu more than happily slotted the extra points to make it a 17-5 lead.
With momentum in their favour, the Force continued to apply pressure at the start of the second half. A potential opportunity for a great try came off a clever pick up by Alatimu passing it to Clay Ueyn who handed it back to Alatimu to score just before he was tackled into touch, however, the try wasn’t to be with the touch judge ruling Uyen out over the touchline.
A second penalty goal by Samoan international, Alatimu, put him in position to be the top point scorer of the match keeping his perfect record.
The Fijian’s replied quickly when the captain, Mosese Voka, put down a try after several strong phases. But the momentum they had hoped to gain came crashing down when Fijian Latui received yet another yellow card, this time to Apisalome Vota.
The Force took full advantage of their opposition being one man down with the forwards getting down to work, forming a great maul off the back of a lineout allowing replacement hooker Feleti Kaitu’u to crash over for the try.
Fijian international Mesulame Dolokoto finished the scoring for the game with a well-executed try in the corner of the field, but it was too little too late as the Force celebrated an impressive win when the fulltime whistle blew.
Tries: Issak Fines, Jack McGregor and Feleti Kaitu’u.