SYDNEY (Reuters) - Fiji’s forwards muscled up to keep their Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) title defence alive and put their World Cup preparations back on track with a thumping 38-13 victory over Canada in Suva on Saturday.
Flying Fijians coach John McKee rang the changes after the 34-21 loss to Japan in Kamaishi last Saturday and his players responded with a six try to one, bonus point hammering of the overpowered Canadians.
The first four tries came from forwards with number eight Viliame Mata, flanker Peceli Yato and lock Leone Nakarawa crossing to give the hosts a 19-13 halftime lead and prop Peni Ravai powering his way over the line soon after the break.
The backs got into the act in the 49th minute when Josua Tuisova was set free by quick hands from centre Semi Radradra and the winger just got the ball down in the tackle.
Canada, who opened their PNC campaign last weekend with a 47-19 loss to the United States in Denver, pounced on a turnover to send winger Kainoa Lloyd over in the corner just before the break but that was as good as it got for the visitors.
Four attempts to get the rolling maul going off attacking lineouts were stymied by the Fiji pack before the home side showed them how to do it to get replacement hooker Mesulame Dolokoto across the line for the final try in the 68th minute.
“I think the boys played really well today, great effort,” said Fiji captain Nakarawa. “But there are still some improvements we need to make in the little things. If we look after the little things, the big things will follow.”
Fiji, Pacific champions for the last four years, host Samoa in their final match of the championship in Suva next Saturday. Canada play Tonga in Fiji’s second city Lautoka in their third match on Friday.
“We’ve just got to keep growing, it was a big improvement on last week against the United States,” said Canada coach Kingsley Jones.
“There’s 50 days or so until the World Cup and we’ve only been together for two weeks. I think we’re going in the right direction.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Sudipto Ganguly