Fijiana wins 2018 Oceania Rugby Women’s XVs Championship

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Fijiana wins 2018 Oceania Rugby Women’s XVs Championship
Saturday, November 24, Lautoka, Fiji: Fijiana players celebrate after winning the Ocean Rugby Women's XVs Championship 43-12 against Samoa, at Churchill Park, Lautoka. (Photo credit Oceania Rugby)

The Fiji Airways Fijiana women’s XV side has won and retained, their Oceania Championship title, after thrashing Samoa 43-12 at Churchill Park in Lautoka. A great result, as Fijiana wins by scoring seven-tries-to-two, in another dominant display in front of a home crowd.

The Oceania Rugby Women’s XVs Championship final round saw matches between Tonga and Papua New Guinea, before the ‘main event’ involving Fijiana and Manu Sina [Samoa]. The spotlight being on Pacifica Rugby and on the women’s game, full credit must be given to all the players, supports staffs and Oceania Rugby administration.

Fijiana wins 2018 Oceania Rugby Women’s XVs Championship

The Fijian national women’s team have gelled terrifically over the three-match series. Taking maximum points on offer, they challenged themselves and performed at a higher level – just like the men’s XVs side do.

In this third round match, the ball went the way of the hosts, with Fiji leading 33-7 at halftime. They continued to ‘pile on the pressure’ to wrap up the International match, 43-12.

Fiji’s tries came from Timaima Ravisa, Karalani Naisewa, Rusila Tamoi (2) and Tokasa Seniyasi in the opening half. Merewai Cumu who created both of Tamoi’s tries, grabbed one herself in the final quarter. Captain Rusila Nagasau rounded out the scoring, to secure the title.

Samoa could only manage to score two tries, but they did put in a huge effort, to limit the damage; Fijiana wins by huge margins, so to hold them to a 30 point margin brings some respectability [by comparison to the opening two rounds]. Samoa’s two tries were scored by Saelua Leaula and replacement Lumepa Maiava.

Fijiana Captain’s post-game reaction

“I’d like to thank each and everyone for supporting us today. We know that women’s rugby is not that important in Fiji but this is what we’ve done as our aim was to set a platform not only in Fiji, but also the Pacific and the world,” Rusila Nagasau said to Oceania Rugby.

The respect between the sides is noticeable. They play each other regularly, and all four teams involved in the annual Championship have each grown in their play style, improved their systems and organization, and it will show in the years to come.

Sui Pauraisa, Samoa captain said “We’re so proud of the girls and we’re blessed to be Samoan as this is just the beginning. We aim now to try and make the Women’s Rugby World Cup.”

The 2021 tournament will be hosted by New Zealand, and with Pacifica Rugby being so prominent across the South Pacific, expect qualification to bring out the best in every team competing.

Tonga settle for third place in Oceania Rugby Women’s Champs

In the opening match of the day, Tonga were too strong for the Papua New Guinea Palais, overcoming them 62-26. The reds of Tonga ran in 10 tries, with Palais scoring four themselves.

In a game played in the heat of the day, after a quality first half, where PNG showed Tonga some real defence and had periods of attack, unfortunately, their second-half performance would let them down. From being 21-15 down, they fell away poorly, to be beaten by 36 points.

Tongan women’s XV captain’s reaction

“This is only the third time for some of our girls to ever play rugby, so we’re just grateful to have this opportunity and I’m proud the girls gave it their all,” Vainga Moimoi, Tongan captain explained to Oceania Rugby.

With Tonga going through a rebuilding phase, the women who can further develop their games in local competition and International matches like this, will create a more ‘equal playing field’ for others to benefit.

Opposition skipper Debbie Kaore said, “We came for a purpose but unfortunately we didn’t get what we wanted. But hopefully next time, it won’t be so bad and we will come back even harder.”

That is a great attitude to have, as in any sport, showing a will to play the full 80 minutes takes determination. All 23 Palaise women should be congratulated for their dedication, ina sport which is second to rugby league back in their homeland. Hopefully, rugby can gain a strong foothold in Port Moresby and across the Islands.

Future Stars unveiled in Oceania Rugby Women’s competition

There were plenty of stars who stood out in the tournament, from all of the teams. However, the Samoan’s and Fijian’s were a class above the rest; especially the former Sevens stars.

Their experience was the difference between the two sides in the final.

For Manu Sina, lock Taylah Hodson-Tomokino, blindside flanker Marilyn Live, openside flanker and captain Sui Puarasi, and number eight Nina Foaese really stood out. They all put in plenty of work, in tough conditions [in November].

In the backs, Billy-Jean Ale and Josephine Falesita were strong in the centers. However, fullback Soteria Puluma was the rock for the Samoans at the back. Her vision in attack and running lines was outstanding. And so was her defense, in stopping Fijiana players from scoring more tries with a quality tackling technique.

Hometown heroes – 2018 Champions; Fijiana

Jiowana Sauto in our book deserves the ‘Player of the Tournament’ for her valiant effort. She was in the thick of everything from attack to defense. A former Sevens star, so she used her experience well, as did fellow loosie Lavenia Tinai. They both created opportunities in the game, as any good playmaker should.

Where Fijiana wins so many of their games, the platform is laid in the front from Leilani Burnes and Makereta Tunidau. Ana Roqica was devastating at halfback; creating and maintaining her forwards interplay and defensive system. Players like Torika Seniyasi are growing in confidence, after every outing.

Rusila Nagasau ruled the centers, with Tima Ravisa at fullback showing her qualities. It was great to see all these talents emerge, as Fiji took out the Oceania Rugby Women’s XVs Rugby title, on the international stage.

Vaiga Moimoi and her young Tongan side will get better from the experience gained. The challenge for them is to have regular matches, to maintain a high level of competitiveness. Debbie Kaore and Joanne Lagona will help their Palais side in moving forward.

Every woman who represented their nation should feel they have gained much, over the three rounds of competition. That was represented in the curtain raiser, where young players of the future showed their promise.

As we bid good-bye to a great tournament, new and everlasting friendships have been created. The camaraderie forged on and off the field, is a credit to the players and their families. The championship will only get better, and Last Word on Rugby call on Oceania Rugby and especially World Rugby, to make it an annual event that highlights the very best of Pacifica women’s rugby.

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LWOR would like to thank Biu Kacimaiwai and the team at the Oceania Rugby media center, in all their help of our coverage of the 2018 Oceania Rugby Women’s XVs Championship.

*LWOR will bring you our Dream XVs team from the Championship next week.

 

“Main photo credit – courtesy of the Oceania Rugby facebook page”

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