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Junior All Blacks win Pacific Nations Cup

James Mortimer - allblacks.com     27 Jun 2009    

Fiji could in theory record a bonus point win over Japan in their final match to draw level with the Junior All Black team, but the New Zealand side would take it out by virtue of their victory over the Fijians early in the tournament.

Seremaia Bai’s turned in a masterclass of goal kicking to win the match for the Fijians, despite Samoa leading 9-3 at the break.

Fiji's Vereniki Goneva scored the first try of the game early into the second half, which allowed them to take the lead thanks to a conversion and another penalty to Bai.

Another Fijian penalty was kicked, before Samoa's Notise Tauafao
narrowed the gap with a try in the closing stages.

However, Bai would kick his fourth penalty and fifth kick overall to guide Fiji to a strong win over their traditional rivals.

Japan recorded their third straight victory over Tonga, grinding away against the more physical Island team.

The Asian champions are certainly a team on the up, looking very competitive against their bigger opponents.

Tactically, they dominated from the beginning, but Tonga were outstanding defensively in the opening stanza which allowed them to hold the faster Japanese out.

Tonga though would open the scoring, scoring through Joseph Vaka after a Japanese kick was charged down.

Japan though would score through Shaun Webb scoring two brilliant tries, both of which were converted to give Japan a 15-7 halftime lead.

The number of opportunities created by the Japanese was quite remarkable, being directed by first five Takashi Kikutani.

However, Tonga would score first in the second half through hooker Iliasi Ma’asi, who scored a excellent solo try to bring the Tongans back into the game.

Tonga had a man sent to the bin, but Japan could only manage two penalties over the rest of the half, but it looked like they would hold off to win 21-14.

However Tonga would score through Tevita Halaifonua, but he could not convert his own try to snatch victory from Japan.

The final two matches of the Pacific Nations tournament will be at the National Stadium in Suva, with Tonga facing the Junior All Blacks on 2 July before Fiji play Japan on 3 July.