Editorial comment | A powerful statement

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FIJI Water Flying Fijians flanker Lekima Tagitagivalu on attack against the Wallabies during their second pool match of the Rugby World Cup at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint Etienne in France. Picture: MARTIN SERAS LIMA

Powerful! Dominating! What a game! That 22-15 victory over the Australian Wallabies at the Rugby World Cup in France was like an injection of enthusiasm and confidence for Fiji as a nation.

It is difficult not to be swayed by the outpouring of emotions yesterday. It is difficult to not be swayed by the feeling of gratitude and overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

You could sense it yesterday. You could feel it in the way people spoke. There was joy and a great feeling of patriotism. This resonated around the world where Fijians live. It was like a tidal wave.

A wave of emotions and exhilaration. The Flying Fijians have come of age. That win over the Wallabies wasn’t an upset. In fact it shouldn’t be considered an upset in the greater scheme of things.

We won because we dominated the game. We defeated the Wallabies because on the day, we were better. While there were many heroes for the Flying Fijians, experts would be looking at that final scrum and rubbing their hands in glee.

As the Australians prepared to feed the scrum, skipper Waisea Nayacalevu encouraged our pack. You could read his lips – “Dei tiko!” He realised the very real possibility of the Wallabies clawing their way back even with time almost up on the clock.

The scrum was the key to our fortunes. It was the base that held together our hopes and aspirations. It was a tall order. But the skipper knew we could do it. We have the men to do the job, to maintain the scoreline.

The sounds, and the magical atmosphere that enveloped the stadium was overwhelming. The fans were on a high, and Fiji had quite a large support base. They’d provided the important lung power the Flying Fijians needed to keep them in the zone, fired up and motivated to the last minute.

Hard men like Peni Ravai who came on as a replacement for Eroni Mawi at tighthead prop, hooker Tevita Ikanivere, and loosehead prop Luke Tagi knew they had to get things under control as the Australians prepared for their offensive scrum.

Then it happened! Our tight five and backrow came off with a screamer, driving the Wallabies scrum backwards, and came off with a penalty. How many times have we seen our scrum drive back the Wallabies? How many times?

This was one for the times! A moment to relish, to embrace and to be proud of! The stuff of dreams! It was a powerful statement! We have a scrum that is world class. The rest, as they say, is history!

That was the story of the day anyway at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint -Étienne. We dominated the scrums against a side that certainly isn’t a pushover. And we said it in the lead up to the Test.

With our competitive pack, and star-studded backline, attention had to shift to the breakdowns, and what a game our backrowers had. Goosebump stuff! It was a massacre! We have backrowers who are arguably up there with the best in the world.

We have powerful runners, and men who are hunters on the field, putting their bodies on the line in the pursuit of the pill. It didn’t help the Wallabies either that we had quality players who were pushing the boundaries in broken play all over the park.

Semi Radradra and big Josua Tuisova came off with some telling moments. And what about the kicking of halfback Simione Kuruvoli? What about the runs from midfield by Nayacalevu?

Raiwalui’s decision to play two openside flankers on the day was like an injection of pace, athleticism, and grunt. Our backline defended well against a classy Wallabies side, and our maul defence, aside from allowing that try by Suliasi Vunivalu, was solid.

In the end, Fiji rejoiced. This is what it is all about. We have long known about the impact of rugby victories on our nation. Yesterday, it brought good feelings. It brought a nation together.

Now that is special! What a day! What a game! In the words of the skipper “Dei tiko!”

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