Test is yet to come for Fiji after rout of Malaysia

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 March, 2011, 12:00am

After receiving a harsh lesson in last month's final in Las Vegas, Fiji made their intentions known with a professional nine-try, 59-0 demolition of helpless Malaysia.

But Fiji coach Iliesa Tanivula is not getting carried away, ahead of harder challenges to come this weekend for the most successful team in the tournament's history.

Malaysia provided little opposition in the face of Fiji's lethal combination of power and pace.

Nikola Matawalu's first-half hat-trick put the result beyond doubt before braces from veterans Seremaia Burotu and the recalled David Batiratu completed the rout.

After a mistake-riddled Fiji handed South Africa victory in last month's USA Sevens Cup final following a disastrous first half, Tanivula knows his side must step up in search of an 11th Cup title in Hong Kong. The result against Malaysia was on par, given the 10-try shutout of newcomers Mexico by the defending champions, Samoa

'It was a good start overall, but I thought we didn't start the match very well and the guys went individually in the first half,' Tanivula said. 'In the second half we came together and got back to our game plan and scored a few points.

'It always has to be teamwork. Our boys got a bit off-track, but as always you have to remind them and keep them focused. The second day will be no different; it is going to be huge, with Russia and Kenya who are physical sides, and we just have to get up and be ready to get through to Sunday.'

Russia are a rising force in world rugby and Kenya are dangerous and ever-improving minnows who cannot be taken lightly, so Tanivula knows passage into the Cup quarter-finals from pool D is by no means guaranteed for the 2009 champions before they turn their attentions to winning a first title since Wellington over a year ago.

South Africa's 24-14 win in Las Vegas lifted the Springboks into joint third place with Fiji in the world series standings, behind co-leaders England and New Zealand, but Tanivula hopes hard work behind the scenes will pay off. Fiji reached the Cup semi-finals in both Dubai and George this season.

'There are a lot of positives from the USA tournament,' Tanivula said. 'We did commit a lot of mistakes in the final against South Africa, but credit to South Africa for the way they came out and played. We just have to rectify the mistakes in this tournament and step up. There have been a lot of discussions and video analysis of the games from Vegas and Wellington and we are ready.'

For Malaysia coach Boon Hoon Chee, his charges put up an admirable first-half show to restrict Fiji to just Matawalu's three scores, before being steamrollered after the break.

With a fifth-place finish at the Asian Games in Guangzhou to show for their recent efforts, along with fourth place at last September's Shanghai Sevens, Malaysia and their strong Fijian representation in Kini Rasolosolo, Timoci Nacakula and Isoa Turuva are confident of building on yesterday's first-half efforts on their return to Hong Kong after an eight-year break

'We knew we would be up against that intensity: Fiji are a top team in the world,' Boon said. 'We played well in the first seven minutes, but in the second half we faded. We can take a lot of encouragement and the boys are very confident after the good showing in the first half.

'Fiji definitely have the quality to go on and win this week. They have quality all over the place; they are a very strong team.'