Rugby

Fiji secure World Cup spot

2014-06-28 11:00
Nemani Nadolo (Getty Images)

Suva - Fiji have thrashed the Cook Islands 108-6 in a 17-try rout on Saturday to secure their berth at next year's Rugby World Cup in England.

Nemani Nadolo scored a hat-trick of tries while Metuisela Talebula, Adriu Delai and Timoci Nagusa added a pair each in the comprehensive victory which ensured Fiji will play England in the World Cup opener at Twickenham on September 18.

Nemia Kenatale, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Watisoni Votu, Akapusi Qera, Dominiko Waqaniburotu and Leeroy Atalifo scored a try each in the qualifier at Churchill Park, Lautoka. Nikola Matawalu scored two tries as a replacement.

It was the third-highest score posted by a Fijian side, whose best is 120-4 over Niue 31 years ago, while the hapless Cook Islands were subjected to their worst defeat and the first time they have conceded more than 100 points in a game.

It was always going to be a lop-sided fixture between the world's 11th and 46th ranked sides, with Fiji only forced into qualifying after failing to advance from the pool stages at the last World Cup.

Fiji also had the luxury of drawing from an established pool of players, many of them playing professionally abroad, while the Cook Islands searched via social media to find players who were eligible and available.

However, the Cook Islands had a brief sniff of glory, leading 6-5 after the first quarter with two penalties by Sam Vaevae after Fiji fullback Talebula had opened the scoring with a try 70 seconds after the kick off.

But at the 20 minute mark, Fiji tightened their performance after a horrendous run of misdirected passes and handling errors, and as their accuracy improved the try scoring began in earnest.

They scored four further tries to shut out the first half with a 29-6 lead before a second half blitz in which they scored a further 79 points with another 12 tries, eight conversions and an unexpected drop goal by Talebula.

Fiji now join Pool A at the World Cup alongside England, Australia, Wales and one other yet-to-be-decided team.

Scorers:

Fiji: 108 - Tries: Metuisela Talebula (2), Nemia Kenatale, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Nemani Nadolo (3), Watisoni Votu, Akapusi Qera, Adriu Delai (2), Leroy Atalifo, Nikola Matawalu (2), Timoci Nagusa (2), Dominiko Waqaniburoto; Conversions: Nadolo (3), Jonetani Ralulu (7); Drop goal: Talebula

Cook Islands: 6 - Penalties: Sam Vaevae (2)

Teams:

Fiji:
15 Metuisela Talebula; 14 Waisea Nayacalevu, 13 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 12 Nemani Nadolo, 11 Watisoni Votu; 10 Jonetani Ralulu, 9 Nemia Kenatale; 8 Akapusi Qera (captain), 7 Malakai Ravulo, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu; 5 Api Naikatini, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa; 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Campese Ma'afu

Substitutes: 16 Bill Veikoso, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Leroy Atalifo, 19 Rupeni Nasiga, 20 Leone Nakarawa, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Adriu Delai, 23 Timoci Nagusa

Cook Islands:
15 Chay Raui; 14 James Iopu-Johnston, 13 Joel Rapana, 12 James Raea, 11 Ioane Ioane; 10 Sam Vaevae, 9 Dan Deveraux; 8 Steve Setephano, 7 Nick Connal, 6 Kima Iosua; 5 Simon Marcel, 4 Bon Maui; 3 Stan Wright (captain), 2 Francis Smith, 1 AJ Campbell

Substitutes: 16 Jacob Marsters, 17 Chris Iosua, 18 Matt Mullany, 19 Iro Teariki, 20 Mark Ioane, 21 Andrew Putairi, 22 Reece Joyce, 23 Louis Makuere

Referee: Nick Briant (NZL)

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