Tuesday 9 October 2007

Bok Power

South Africa 37-20 Fiji

Take a bow Fiji, the great entertainers took their exit from Rugby's greatest stage to rapturous applause from both Springbok and Fiji supporters alike. Throughout the tournament Fiji, along with their Pacific island neighbours Samoa and Tonga have the respect and affection of anyone who has had the pleasure of watching them do their islander thing. In the tense cauldron of rugby world cup game play that sees s many teams go all conservative for fear of making costly mistakes, Fiji dared to be audacious. They threw the ball around with joyful abandon, displaying wonderful handling and attacking ability throughout the tournament producing several highlight reels worth of trys.

The difference this year was the superior Fijian organisation. For a team that has traditionally simply 'played what was in front of them' the islanders showed the benefits of increased IRB funding with a more professional ethos to their play. No longer were they completely blown out at the breakdown, or failed to compete at the set-piece. Fiji, and all the islanders for that matter, have now combined their considerably impressive natural game with structure. This new solid forward base, whilst not the greatest in the world obviously, has more than stood up to the challenge in this world cup, going toe to toe with the Boks and giving those devastating backs a platform to work from.

With the Welsh dispatched in stunning circumstances 38-34 to put the islanders into their first quarter final since 1987, there were still few who believed that they could seriously trouble the Boks. Especially without their talismanic out-half Nikki Little, who tore ligaments in his knee at the end of the Welsh game. But stand to the Springbok challenge they did, defiant little Fiji fronting up to the might of powerful South Africa. However the Fijians slipped to a 20-6 deficit with half an hour to go and with Rabeni in the bin, the floodgates looked set to burst.

The South Africans were relying on their monstrous pack to win the game for them by bullying their Fijian counterparts around the park but the Boks were struggling to contain the Fijians out wide. Delasau chipping head and winning the foot race to bring Fiji back to within a try. Then the madness began, regathering the kickoff Fiji ran it from inside their own 22. Tearing the South African defence to shreds they went 100 metres in a minute and had scored again, 20-20.

For the next ten minutes Fiji put the Boks under siege in their 22 but were unable to score. South Africa eventually scrambled out of their hole, nudging ahead with a Montgomery penalty before two late trys orchestrated by the Boks' pack sealed Fiji's fate.

Boke Boke
Allez Les Bleus!!
Boooo England

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