Fiji battle back to beat Japan

Fiji battled from behind to beat Asian champions Japan 24-12 on Sunday to chalk up their second win after three matches in the Pacific Nations Cup.

Fiji, who narrowly lost to New Zealand Maori 11-7 at home a week ago, trailed Japan 9-3 at half-time but scored three converted tries in the second half in driving rain at the National Stadium.

Japan’s starting XV, unchanged from the side that beat Tonga 35-13 last week, opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a penalty goal by New Zealander James Arlidge.

Taniela Rawaqa levelled the scores with a penalty six minutes later but the Brave Blossoms went ahead with two more penalty goals by Arlidge, who missed a third attempt a minute before the break.

Fiji started to click in the second half as Sireli Naqelevuki ran in their first try in the 50th minute with two more coming through Rawaqa and Vereniki Goneva.

Goneva touched down with two minutes to go, with Rawaqa scoring his third conversion.

Japan’s only score in the second period was through another Arlidge penalty.

It was the eighth win for Fiji over Japan in their 10 meetings.

In their previous encounter, Fiji struggled past the Blossoms 35-31 in Toulouse, in what was regarded by many as one of the best games of the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Japan, fourth in the six-team Pacific Nations table with one win and two losses, will face New Zealand Maori in Napier next weekend in their first match on the road.

Fiji will face tournament leaders Australia A away in Brisbane.

Both Australia A and New Zealand Maori remain unbeaten. But the Australians are ahead on 14 points, including two bonus points.

Sapa-AFP –

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