Round 2 of the Pacific Challenge saw the Argentina up their game against Tonga, Canada lose their discipline against Samoa, and Fiji throttle poor Japan.
The Pampas got back on track with a dominant win over Tonga after their subdued performance against Fiji in round 1. Javier Rojas scored 11 points including a try to lead the way. A mighty effort from the forwards set the platform, especially in the scrum, for the speedy outside backs to take advantage. Tonga managed only a consolation score through standout no8 Jack Ram, converted by Liueli Simote. Argentina now need only beat Canada to make the final, while Tonga remain winless.
Tonga ‘A’ – L. Simote 1c, K. Kaufusi 1t
Argentina Pampas – J. Rojas 1t 3c, M. Landajo 1t, S. Cordero 1t, T. Carrió 1t, F. Isa 1t
S. Fiefia (E. Uele 78); S. Talakai (V. Mavae 78), S. Palei, A. Ma’afu, S. Tautalanoa (K. Greer 39); L. Simote, S. Muna; L. Tuipulotu (L. Kilifi 50), Tuifua (T. Otuvaka 63), K. Kaufusi (T. Ahia 78); A. Fe’ao (capt.), M. Tonga; S. Pole (F. Havea 37), F. Lokotui, J. Ram (V. Baranyi 73).
R. Moyano; S. Cordero (M. Moroni 52), E. Boffelli, J. de la Fuente (S. González Iglesias 49), T. Carrió; J. Rojas, M. Landajo (capt.) (F. Ezcurra 52); S. García Botta (L. Noguera Paz 52), F. Bosch (S. Iglesias Valdez HT), L. Martínez (B. Postiglioni 70); M. Alemanno, A. Panceyra Garrido (G. Albertario 49); T. Lezana, L. Ahualli, F. Isa (J. Ortega Desio 43).
Canada came close, but ultimately fell flat in a disappointing second half after entering the break with a 7 point lead. It was a largely error-strewn match with Samoa getting the edge for much of the first half, but a fine score to Benoît Piffero, one of the best team tries of the tournament thus far, brought them right back into the game. A moment of madness from Nissan Aitui, who knocked the ball back into play with the halftime whistle looming, gifted Ciaran Hearn a try just moments later to give Canada the unlikely lead.
The second half was all Samoa, with a severe lack of discipline on the part of Canada the chief culprit. Captain Hubert Buydens, who had otherwise played well, was shown a red card with only minutes to play as a dangerous clearout at a ruck earned him his second yellow. The card was particularly untimely as his side were on the attack and looked set to regain the lead. Canada conceded numerous penalties throughout and had Patrick Fa’apale and Titi Esau taken their opportunities the score might not have been so close.
The result was not entirely unexpected as Canada had opted to field a largely reserve side for the fixture, though the lack of composure shown was disappointing. There were some positives, particularly in the performance of young fullback Pat Kay who was arguably their best player on the day, defending well and impressing with the boot. The scrum went very well, with Tom Dolezel and Ryan Kotlewski both making strong contributions along with Buydens.
Canada now face tournament favorites Argentina in round 3, while Samoa have a chance to make the final if they can get by hosts Fiji.
Canada ‘A’ – P. Kay 1p 2c, B. Piffero 1t, C. Hearn 1t
Samoa ‘A’ – P. Fa’apale 2p 1c, T. Esau 2p, A. Williams 1t
Canada ‘A’ – H. Buydens yellow (14) red (76)
P. Kay (L. Underwood 67); J. Wilson-Ross (C. Trainor 61), C. Hearn, P. Parfrey, P. Mackenzie; H. Jones, S. White (G. McRorie 67); H. Buydens (capt.), B. Piffero (R. Barkwill 45-53, 64), R. Kotlewski (T. Dolezel 67); A. Flagg, K. Baillie (C. Morrison 67); T. de Goede (T. Dolezel 15-24) (J. Moonlight 45), A. Clark (P. Houlihan 79), A. Kleeberger.
T. Esau (S. Iosua 69); H. Suau’u, R. Meredith, F. Afamasaga (K. Thomsen 75), Fn. Iosi; P. Fa’apale (capt.), V. Afemai (P. Cowley 75); R. Fualau (Ft. Iosi 67), A. Williams (S. Semeane 20), J. Grey (R. Salu 56); F. Afiafi, E. Togitele; N. Aitui, O. Fa’afou (R. Bartley 78), L. Sefo (F. Ieremia 50).
A poor advertisement for the tournament as hosts Fiji decimated the Japanese u20 players with embarrassing ease. They had 67 points already on the board after 47 minutes played and had they not taken their foot off the gas they would have made the century with ease. Four players scored two tries each, including scrumhalf Serupepeli Vularika who also added 6 conversions. The match only highlighted further the repugnant situation that the Japanese players find themselves in, thrown to the wolves by both the JRFU and World Rugby. What a horribly misguided decision to allow this to continue after last year’s debacle.
Fiji – S. Vularika 2t 6c, I. Donaldson 1t 2c, K. Douglas 1c, R. Vatuinaruku 2t, N. Wakaya 2t, E. Delai 2t, S. Tabakanalagi 1t, N. Nagusa 1t, J. Stewart 1t, N. Camainakelo 1t
Fiji – J. Sassen yellow (67)
E. Waqa; N. Wakaya, J. Kerevi, J. Stewart (S. Cava 64), E. Delai; R. Vatuinaruku (K. Douglas 77), S. Vularika (I. Donaldson 45); J. Veitayaki (N. Camainakelo 55), S. Cakobau (J. Sassen 51), L. Atalifo (T. Koroi 71); A. Mataivelia (M. Tamaya 62), S. Tabakanalagi; T. Sauvoli (F. Koroi 57), M. Namalo (S. Cakobau 74-77), N. Nagusa (capt.).
T. Ozaki; S. Ozaki, K. Kasahara, S. Nakano (Y. Okada 58), S. Iseki; T. Kanai (R. Noguchi 64), D. Nakajima (K. Murase 60); R. Kuhara (S. Miura 58), K. Horikoshi (capt.) (R. Iwaihara 64), Y. Fujino (T. Kakimoto 42); R. Sasaki (T. Saita 64), H. Kato; Y. Sano, K. Urabe, G. Maeda (T. Tatafu 51).