Staying power

Fred Wesley | Monday, June 19, 2017
THE Flying Fijians may have tightened up on defence to keep the Italians at bay on Saturday at the National Stadium in Suva.

There may have been a concerted effort to nullify the Azzurri attack, which eventually gave us victory.

When you consider the test in totality though, it is difficult to get past the fact that we did come back from the brink of defeat to overcome a side that has been exposed to tougher matches than us.

Now given our history with a drop in form in the final quarter of Test matches, Saturday's game was special.

It showed fans what we are capable of. It gave us a glimpse of the package that is being put together by national coach John McKee.

We won the encounter 22-19 on Saturday.

It was the 11th Test between our two countries.

We hold top rank on positive outcomes, with six wins, five right here in Fiji and once in Italy.

The game kept thousands of rugby fans on the edge of their seats. The tries scored by the national side were beautifully executed.

You could tell the amount of work put into our running lines.

You could see the amount of work placed on positional play.

McKee, however, highlighted a major plus in our effort on Saturday.

It was our commitment at the tail end of the clash.

When the chips appeared to be down, when we looked to be on the chopping block, we stayed in the game.

We never lost the momentum and we never gave up. And that is something McKee is pretty happy with.

It is that willingness to stay in the game and fight on until the end.

That is a part of the game that was once our major downfall.

Top teams just had to regroup and come out firing in the final quarter to defeat us. They just had to retain a bit of the enthusiasm and firepower in their armour to whip us when we looked like a spent force.

And that is one area that McKee is content with.

That is good news.

Tied 19-19 towards the end of the game, the national side maintained its structure and cleared a pathway for five-eighth Ben Volavola to slot in a last-minute drop-goal.

That turned the game our way.

"For me, one of the really good things about the game is the way the team fought right to the end. In the past, teams would put their heads down when they were under that pressure in the back end of the game," McKee said.

As we gear up for the next international, against Scotland, fans will no doubt be eager to see more feats of magic from the Flying Fijians. Go Fiji, go!

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