Fiji sent out a Rugby World Cup warning to their Pool A rivals England, Australia, Wales and Uruguay after a ruthless display of finishing saw them claim the Pacific Nations Cup 2015 title at the expense of rivals Samoa.
Fiji won 39-29 in a thrilling final in Burnaby, Canada, to claim their second Pacific Nations Cup crown and head into RWC 2015 full of confidence.
Second-row Leone Nakarawa grabbed two of his side’s five tries with the others coming from influential scrum-half Niko Matawalu, full-back Kini Murimurivalu and flanker Akapusi Qera in a compelling contest.
Captain Qera was understandably delighted with Fiji’s first win in five attempts against their great rivals, which sets them up nicely for the Rugby World Cup curtain-raiser against England at Twickenham on 18 September.
“The PNC is a major part of our build-up towards the Rugby World Cup and to win the tournament is a major plus for us,” Qera said.
“We will now go back home and enjoy a few days off with family, then it will be back in camp to focus on the England game. We know that it is not going to be easy against England. We are in a pool that has been labelled as a pool of death, and we will survive that pool.”
Elsewhere on the final day at the Pacific Nations Cup, 16 points from the boot of Kurt Morath and tries from Halani Aulika, Fetu’u Vainikolo and Sonatane Takulua saw Tonga secure a hard-fought 31-20 victory over Japan in the opening match of the day at the Swangard Stadium.
In the other game of the day, out-half AJ MacGinty hit a drop goal in the 80th minute as the USA edged Canada 15-13 in the North American derby to decide fifth place.
The Pacific Nations Cup is a strategic initiative tournament designed to provide players with exposure to the rigours of international competition, with the overriding objective of improving the performance of these strategically important unions at Rugby World Cup.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “I wish to send my congratulations to Fiji on a well-deserved victory at this year’s Pacific Nations Cup, which was a fantastic competition that saw some excellent rugby on display in Fiji, USA and Canada.
“The win will give Fiji a huge confidence boost going into a tough Rugby World Cup pool in September, but it has also provided a good opportunity for the other five sides to test their squads ahead of England 2015.