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Monday, April 22 2019 @ 11:45 am ACST

Structured USA outplays undisciplined Fiji

International Cup 2014
Under cool overcast conditions the teams placed 8th (Fiji) and 9th (USA) in the competition from the first three rounds played on McAlister Oval. 
 
It was the Americans out of the blocks first with goals to Bryan Dragus looking good on the lead again with ability to take a good grab and kick straight. Both teams looked like they had plenty to prove and hit the contest hard and tackled ferociously.  Ben Carpenter-Nwanyanwu added a second and could have had his second but his kick drifted. Jiuta Vatutei pegged one back for Fiji to leave the US with a 9 point lead at quarter time.
 
In the second quarter the US added four goals to put good distance between them and Fiji. The US were running hard into the forward line and made Fiji look lazy in defence Kevin Stanley and Ryan McGettigan beneficiaries of this. Bobby Sears kicked a long goal and Andrew Werner another on the run. Max Wolfgramm was the only goalkicker for Fiji, with Seilawa and Koroi working hard to try get Fiji back in the game.

 

Coach Mike Leahy must have given the team a blast at three quarter time because Fiji came out looking much more switched on. The intensity of the contests lifted and bodies hit hard. Fiji looked dangerous every time they managed to fire the ball into their forward line with a long kick but the delivery seemed quite random and left it up to the likes of Chet Ridenour and Dan Lehane to clean up when it came their way. On the turnover the US were the ones who capitalised, even under great pressure they managed to put the ball to the advantage of the leading forwards. Dragus in particular kicking two goals for the quarter cashed in. Dylan Wolfgramm showed his skill kicking in from the three US behinds regularly hitting targets and Kakaivalu and Navuso seemed to be everywhere for Fiji.
 
If they were on for the third quarter, Fiji were off again in the last as the plot was lost. They started to get physical at the man beyond the acceptable. Despite this the US added four more goals to Werner, Johnson, Fashant and Fisher. Fashant in particular seemed to enjoy the high paced physical clashes with the Fijians throughout the match and has had a great tournament so far.
 
Late in the match Kakaivalu was sent off for Fiji but this would have no bearing on the result. Three Fiji players were also reported so they may be all finished for the tournament.
 
Jerry Vunitabua, Jiuta Vateitei and Filipe Valesu carried the Fijian midfield and Isimeli Qiolevu did his best to maintain discipline in the back line. Both Max and Dylan Wolfgramm tried hard all day, with Max in particular outstanding in performing a number of roles up forward and in the last line of defense.
In the end a solid win for the US against a serious physical and skilful up and coming nation that could learn a lot from the discipline and structure of the Americans.
 
Division 1 (8v9)
 
Fiji: 1.0 2.0 3.1 3.2 (20)
USA: 2.3 6.4 8.7 12.7 (79)
 
Goals
Fiji: Vateitei, M.Wolfgramm, Natadra
USA: Dragus 3, Werner 2, Carpenter, Sears, McGettigan, Stanley, Johnson, Fashant, Fischer
 
Best
Fiji: Raida, Vunitabua, M.Wolfgramm, Qiolevu, Vateitei, Wesley
USA: Sears, Ridenour, Lehane, Fashant, Carpenter, Meritt
 
Footnote: Andy Vanica broke his collarbone in the match against NZ so was unable to play against Fiji today and has announced his retirement after 25 caps for the USA.

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