Fiji tore the Cook Islands apart in a stunning 108-6 drubbing of the underfunded team. In a match that began with a relatively even score board, Cook Islands were rendered ineffective by the more experienced and better supported Fiji side.
Almost half an hour into the match Cook Islands were up 6-5 and hanging onto a chance at a competitive performance. However, as the game progressed, a lack of fitness and discipline began to tell on the Cook Islands squad as they gradually fell apart at the seams. The second half saw Fiji put up an impressive 13 tries out of a total of 17. Playing at home at Churchill Park, Lautoka, the Fijians were buoyed by the opportunity to qualify for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in front of their core supporters.
Akapusi Qera, Fijian captain, said, “It’s a big thing for a rugby player growing up to qualify for the Rugby World Cup and that’s what motivated us in the second half.”
It was Sam Vaevae who slotted a pair of penalties for the Cook Islands to put them ahead 6-0. From there though, an absolute flurry of tries saw the beleaguered Cook Islands squad fall to their superior opponents. It was the biggest loss in history for the Cook Islands national side, who are now eliminated from World Cup contention.
A press release issued on the Cook Islands Rugby Union Facebook page stated:
“We wanted nothing more than to do our country, family and friends proud by qualifying for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and we are very disappointed that we could not deliver in this regard. Congratulations to Fiji who will fill the Oceania 1 Spot at next year’s tournament.”
Metuisela Talebulamaijaina, Nikola Matawalu and Nemani Nadolo led the scoring for Fiji, scoring 13, 15 and 17 points respectively.
Fiji will play in Pool A with Australia, England, Wales and an as yet undetermined team. Their opening match will be against the Welsh at Millennium Stadium on Sunday, September 20th (Cardiff time).