Fiji overcame three yellow cards to record a 24-22 victory over Samoa in the Pacific Nations Cup in Suva on Saturday.
Fiji had centre Jale Vatuba and captain Akapusi Qera sin-binned for dangerous tackles, while replacement prop Eroni Mawi was yellow-carded for a professional foul.
Despite this, the Fijians still managed to punish an error-ridden Samoa with tries from fullback Kini Murimurivalu, flyhalf Ben Volavola and halfback Henry Seniloli giving them a 17-3 half-time lead.
A try from Vereniki Goneva made it 24-3 early in the second half, before Samoa scrumhalf Melani Matavao sparked a comeback as flanker Jack Lam and Matavao’s replacement Dwayne Polataivaia both crossed to give the Samoans hope of snatching a late win.
However, it was not to be as the Fijians clung on to make a winning start to their Pacific Nations Cup campaign.
Fiji – Tries: Kini Murimurivalu, Ben Volavola, Henry Seniloli, Vereniki Goneva. Conversions: Volavola (2).
Samoa – Tries: Melani Matavao, Jack Lam, Dwayne Polataivaia. Conversions: Tusi Pisi, Ah See Tuala. Penalty: Pisi.
Fiji – 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Benito Masilevu, 13 Jale Vatubua, 12 Sevanaia Galala, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Henry Seniloli, 8 Akapusi Qera (c), 7 Viliame Mata, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Talemaitoga Tuapati, 1 Campese Ma’afu.
Subs: 16 Ratu Vere Vugakoto, 17 Eroni Mawim, 18 Ropate Rinakama, 19 Sikeli Nabou, 20 Nemani Nagusa, 21 Serupepeli Vularika, 22 Alivereti Veitokani, 23 Timoci Nagusa.
Samoa – 15 Ah See Tuala, 14 Ed Fidow, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Melani Matavao; 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Chris Vui (c), 4 Josh Tyrell, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Logovii Mulipola.
Subs: 16 Seilala Lam, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 Viliamu Afatia, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 T.J. Ioane, 21 Dwayne Polataivao, 22 Rodney Iona, 23 Paul Perez.
Photo: Sam Barnes/Getty Images