QLD versus Fiji
29 June 2003
QLD 24 lost to Fiji 31
Half time 0 24
It was a strong forward pack from Qld with a few experienced backs shuffled in with some relatively inexperienced backs. A few major omissions are over with the U21 squad who lost to NZ in the final. Damn it but good to see the Argentineans pick up third by beating SA so they are really developing and their results to date must give them some confidence.
It was an afternoon game in beautiful conditions, nice and warm but the wind inconsistent and swirling. However, in the beautiful sunny conditions it meant that I had the sun in my eyes all game and my squinted view probably reflects the match report.
While the Fijian side (not sure of its strength in the forwards) had Serevi (the God of 7ís rugby) so anything can happen and did. As predicted they did spin it wide as often as possible and in the first half they ran riot. As they wracked up 24 unanswered points by half time and QLD were still sitting on their duck.
It was again a delight to watch the Fijian backs in live action and see how the whole team was operating and not just what you can see on your screen. And Serevi's service and ability to break a line was great to watch. His running with the ball in both hands allowed him to dictate terms to an unorganised QLD back three. While his gaol kicking was on song and was perfect for the day.
Yes the Voodoo doll was playing fullback and his poor communication with his wingers meant that there was no one at home in defence for QLD for the Fijian second and third tries once the Fijian backline was let loose. While his aimless kicking game was making me yell out for Salawa (the Fijian no 7 who was tackling the house down) to really smack him out of the game. He caused the 4th try for Fiji after he dawdled and had his kick charged down in the second half. While his goal kicking was a farce especially after Heenan's try when he missed a sitter.
Wakley was also giving very poor service to Flatley and after watching Valentine in the U21ís and hearing about Whitakerís back problems Iím sure he is going to be the deputy come Tri-Nations and hopefully RWC. The ball was either too high or behind Flatley.
This led to Flatley doing a replay of his efforts in the Super 12, 2001 semi-final where he did his famous impression of a possum hit with a .250. Thatís right he was stone cold unconscious before he hit the ground when taking on the line in the Fijian 22. The hit on him looked legal and despite the convulsions on the ground, he wasnít moving while they stretchered him off around the 37 min mark, after a 5-8 min break. By half time, thankfully an announcement was made that Flatley was up and about and had already been sent to hospital just to check things out.
Both my wife and a NSW supporter at the game accused it of being a Chucky ploy to make Flatley play against Fiji so that he could justify putting Larkham back in the number 10.
Thankfully, the Qld forwards dominated the second half, especially from 4 down. While the lineout delivery by McIssacs was perfect all game while he was on the ground. The Fijian did steal one lineout but that was due to them grabbing hold of Cockbainís arm and consequently knocked it on. The Fijian forwards were very strong in defence they were generally hitting clean but hard (Flatley being a good example and Paleassa who may have broken his leg again after finally returning for QLD) but the set pieces were of concern. They also were badly found out in the breakdowns and conceded numerous penalties. The Fijians need to tighten up around the breakdowns in defence before they are really a serious threat in the RWC.
The Qld loosies were dynamic but they kept giving the ball to the backs who would cough it up. Crofty even scored his first try for QLD and all the tries were scored by the forwards (Roe, Heenan and Vedelago were the other try scores) running on to the ball and tearing through the defence and then good support by the other forwards just kept them rolling forward at pace.
In the dying minutes Qld were camped down in the Fijian 22 and were going hammer and tongs to get the try to enable a draw (if Voodoo doll could have kicked it) but they dropped the ball over the tryline in the last play of the day to make it a very exciting spectacle in the second half.
1.Nick Stiles 2.Tai McIsaac 3.Glenn Panoho 4.Matt Cockbain (Captain) 5.Rudi Vedelago 6.Daniel Heenan 7.David Croft 8.John Roe 9.Ben Wakely 10.Elton Flatley (v-c) 11.Cameron Northcott 12.Junior Pelesasa 13.Josh Graham 14.Scott Barton 15.Julian Huxley
Replacements: 16.Sean Hardman 17.Fletcher Dyson/Anthony Mathison 18.Tom McVerry 19. Daniel Leo 20.Damien Hoo 21.Chris Lyons 22.Kuresa Lee
15 Alfie Uluinayau, 14 Isaac Mow, 13 Saimoni Rokini, 12 Seru Rabeni, 11 Sekove Leawere, 10 Waisale Serevi, 9 Mosese Rauluni, 8 Roo Alifereti Doviverata, 7 Kitione Salawa, 6 Sisa Koyamaibole, 5 Kele Leawere, 4 Emori Katalau, 3 Jo Veitayaki, 2 Isaia Rasila (captain), 1 Richard Nyholt.
Replacements: 16 Bill Gadolo, 17 Naca Seru, 18 Alifereti Mocelutu, 19 Seta Tawake, 20 Joseph Narruhn, 21 Epeli Ruivadra, 22 Marika Vunibaka.