Thousands of fans were at the Rotorua International Stadium on September 10 to cheer The Flying Fijians (Fiji) and Welwitschia (Namibia).
Even the Sun appeared to have come out to join Fijians to witness the performance of the National team of the South Pacific nation.
Namibian No 10 Theuns Kotze went on a ‘drop goal’ spree.
It was a clash between two opposite rugby philosophies.
Fiji started the match in a typical freewheeling manner, while Kotze kept them at bay by landing a huge penalty goal followed by a trio of drop goal.
Fiji winger Vereniki Goneva was on top of the world as a four-try hero and Seremaia Bai out on a superb goal kicking performance for a 19-point win against Namibia.
Afterwards both quietly thanked the Fijian fans for their support.
Namibian Captain Jacques Burger bravely threw himself into everything. The Welwitschia were never a match to the Fijians, but put on a fight, which went some way to proving that they might be worth their continuing World Cup status.
The match ended with Fiji scoring 49 and Namibia 25.
The Flying Fijians are in a tough contest alongside South Africa, Wales and Samoa in Pool D. Captain Deacon Manu, the former Waikato and Chiefs stalwart is now playing in Wales.
Fiji’s opening effort was good enough to put away Namibia, but captain Manu knows a repeat would not take down defending World Cup championship South Africa on September 17.
The Fiji team headed for Wellington to prepare for the match against South Africa.
The Fijians realised that they could end up being thrashed if they did not improve their execution and work rate.
“It’s a huge mountain to climb,” Manu said.
The Fijian almost scaled those heights at the last World Cup, pushing the Springboks to the limit. They lost 37-20 in the 2007 quarterfinals.
“We look at that game as the pinnacle of Fiji rugby. We pushed them all the way. But we are under no illusions. South Africa showed in the Tri Nations that they will do anything to win. We have to lift everything in terms of intensity,” Manu said.
While the Flying Fijians scrummed well against Namibia, the lineouts were poor.
Fiji lost three of its own throw-ins.
Lock Loene Nakarawa said crowd noise blocked out the calls.
None of the Fiji backs made a clean midfield break and the first three of Verenik Goneva’s four tries were launched from turnovers.
Namibia kept slipping through Fiji’s defence, especially in the second half, and the West African’s frequent backline raids were barely contained.
Fiji Assistant Coach Greg Mumm expected his team to play a tighter game against South Africa and control its possession better.
We have to make sure that the players keep expressing themselves on the field and play the rugby that we want them to play.