Monday wrap: Mata helps Fiji get back firing on all cylinders

Charlie Talbot-Smith
05 August 2019

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Bill Mata crossed for Fiji’s opening try as they got back to winning ways in style in the Pacific Nations Cup with a handsome victory over Canada.

The Edinburgh No.8 – and the Guinness PRO14 players’ player of the season at the end of the last campaign – went barging over down the left as Fiji came out in Suva with a point to prove.

The four-time defending champions in this tournament were downed by Japan last weekend in their opener but had too much for Canada in a 38-13 victory.

Glasgow Warrior Nikola Matawalu also came off the bench for the Fijians as former Glasgow fan favourite Leone Nakarawa also got his name on the scoresheet.

Clermont flanker Peceli Yato also got in on the act as Canada had no response – despite Peter Nelson and Jeff Hassler in action in their back three.

The new champions of the Cup will be crowned next weekend when Japan face USA.

Japan had too much class for Tonga in Osaka last weekend in a 41-7 victory.

Ma’afu Fia of the Ospreys was in the front row for the Pacific Islanders but it was actually two Tongan-born stars in Amanaki Mafi and Asaeli Ai Valu who dotted down for Japan in the victory.

USA are also unbeaten and on a collision course with Japan after AJ MacGinty’s heroics saw off Samoa.

The former Connacht man – now with Sale Sharks – crossed for a try and also kicked the decisive late penalty in a 13-10 win.

Alapati Leiua dotted down again for the Samoans but it was MacGinty – a Guinness PRO14 champion with Connacht back in 2016 – who held his nerve at the death for an impressive victory.

Meanwhile in the Currie Cup, the Toyota Free Staters lost out to an impressive Golden Lions fightback.

The previously unbeaten Free State surged into a 19-0 lead thanks to tries from Joseph Dweba, Walt Steenkamp and Marnus van der Merwe.

And despite a late penalty from Louis Fouche, and the debut of Ruan Pienaar off the bench, it was the Lions who fought back to stay at the summit with a three from three record.

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