Junior All Blacks blitz hosts
NZPA & Scrum.com
June 18, 2009
Hosea Gear scored a hat-trick of tries for the Junior All Blacks © Getty Images
A four-try blitz in the first half from the Junior All Blacks sent them top of the Pacific Nations Cup standings after they beat the hosts Fiji 45-17 at Churchill Park in Lautoka. Both sides tried to play expansive rugby in greasy conditions but it was New Zealand who showed their superiority improving on last week's narrow 17-16 win against Samoa in Apia.
The New Zealanders were far more clinical out wide with wing Hosea Gear scoring a hat-trick of tries while Ryan Crotty and Anthony Tuitavake were a constant threat in midfield. A pinpoint cross kick from Stephen Brett set up gear's first try in the seventh minute to end an early spell of Fijian dominance.
Fiji, who were also looking for their second win after they beat Tonga 36-22 in their opening game, were gifted the lead in the 14th minute. Alipate Tani's penalty fell short and wide of the New Zealand goalposts but Fiji were handed a five-metre scrum when Jason Eaton made a hash of the catch. Scrum-half Nemia Kenatale made a dart from the resulting ruck and managed to touchdown under the posts before Tani scored the conversion.
The Junior All Blacks took control from the restart when Gear was pivotal in a 50m sweeping move which finished with Tom Donnelly scoring. Captain Tamati Ellison scored the All Blacks' next try and Tuitavake scored the third which showed the junior's ruthless streak. Tuitavake sprinted 50 metres from a turnover ball won by Rene Ranger before crossing unopposed to put the juniors ahead 24-7 at half-time.
Gear scored again after the break then later in the half he showed his power when he took two defenders over the line after accepting a quick pass from replacement Robbie Fruean. Fiji managed to score two consolation tries thanks to efforts from No 8 Sakiusa Matadigo and Iliesa Kerasoni. The latter's came after Ellison was in the sinbin for obstruction.
The Junior All Blacks took the maximum five points to move onto nine after two matches, lying three ahead of Samoa while Fiji remain on five. The Juniors next match is against Japan in Lautoka next Tuesday.
In the other PNC match Samoa scored six tries to gain a valuable bonus-point in a 34-15 win over Japan. Samoa led 12-0 at half time thanks to a penalty-try and one from Justin Va'a before Jack Tarrant and Hirotoki Onozawa scored soon after the break to level the match 12-12.
That was Japan's last try as Samoa took control of the match with four second half tries from Sailosi Tagicakibau, Mahonri Schwalger, Esera Lauina and Semo Sititi. The veteran Sititi came off the bench to score his try having made his Samoan Test debut in 1999.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
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