Sunday, May 31, 2015

International Rugby: Fiji Warriors complete South American Tour Undefeated

Fiji's three-match South American tour came to an end this afternoon with a noteworthy 42-22 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo. In winning cleanly the Pacific Islanders were able to lay down a marker ahead of the all-important pool match between the senior capped sides of the countries at this year's Rugby World Cup. Their match today was uncapped due to Fiji not playing a team with test match status. The teams are to meet in a mid-week match during the final week of the pool stage. The match is to take place in Milton Keynes, north of London. 

The Fiji Warriors 42-22 win against Los Teros saw the Pacific Islanders lifting the Copa Scotiabank this afternoon. The trophy, named for commercial reasons was contested over two matches with the Fijians having won last Saturday by the scoreline of 30-22, also at the Estadio Charrúa. 

By playing with flair in the opening half the Fiji Warriors were able to virtually score from every opportunity presented to them. Shortly after kick-off Fiji looked dangerous and, in finding spaces, the visitors were able to score four first half tries. The scoring, however, opened with the two starting scrumhalves exchanging penalties - Serupepeli Vularika for Fiji and Agustín Ormaechea for Uruguay.  

The 3-3 score in the 12th minute was quickly forgotten as Vularika converted tries to Eroni Vasiteri and John Stewart in the 16th and 20th minutes. Fiji's fourteen point lead was extended by Vularaika who added an additional penalty before crossing for a try of his own and adding the extras. Vasiteri then scored his second try to give the Fiji Warriors a 34-3 lead in the 33rd minute. 

Uruguay fought back to go into half time as the last team to have scored in the opening half. Back-rower Agustín Alonso's try was converted by Ormaechea and the South Americans also scored the first second half try through replacement front-rower German Kessler in the 63rd minute. It, nonetheless, came after Vularika had put Fiji 37-10 up in the 42nd minute. 

Uruguay's improved endurance that has been evident throughout the 2015 international program to date was again clear as the second half unfolded in Montevideo. A 66th minute try to replacement winger Andres Vilaseca provided a hint of hope for a Teros victory. The 37-22 deficit, however, would not be reduced as, instead, Fijian fly half Kini Douglas crossed for an unconverted try which ended the scoring. 

The fixture brings to an end Fiji's South American tour and it also sees Uruguay completing a busy period that started on March 08 with the Uru Cup and has seen seven international matches in eight weeks over the period since April 11. During this time Uruguay has faced Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, the USA and now Fiji. 

The demanding international program is far from over as Uruguay is to now select a squad to travel to Georgia to take part in the Tbilisi Cup. The tour team competition will see Uruguay playing a capped test against Georgia while playing against the 'A' sides from both Ireland and Italy. Upon returning Uruguay's players will rest ahead of a conditional program in July to prepare the players for the final home match which is to be against Argentina on August 01. 

Uruguay's players are to then play Rugby World Cup warm-up matches in Japan and País Vasco before arriving in the U.K. Los Teros will play pool matches in both Wales and England, facing both host nations in away matches. The opening pool fixture for the South Americans is to be against the Welsh at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Sunday September 20. 

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