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Pacific Nations Cup Week 1: Preview and predictions

Fijian Nemani Nadolo is a star for Fiji. (Photo: AFP)
Roar Guru
15th June, 2018
7

After a slow first round, the PNC will wrap up on Saturday, and both Fiji and Georgia are in the running for the title.

The way this tournament is run this year, there are only two weeks of competition, meaning that even if Fiji and Georgia draw, they will reach six and seven points, meaning they are out of reach of the other teams.

Both games in week 1 were close, scrappy efforts, but while Fiji walked off with a four-try bonus point, everyone else either took four or one points from their games.

The winner will be decided by the Fiji versus Georgia, as the winner will walk home with a PNC title.

Tonga v Samoa
These teams mirrored each other in the first round, both losing by a fraction, however being out of the game for much of it, ultimately making a comeback in the last moments.

The Ikale Tahi found the intensity in the last five minutes – against Georgia – that they were lacking for most of the game, the general feeling was that had the game gone on another five minutes, the men in red would have won.

Samoa found themselves down 24-3 soon after halftime, but launched a comeback in the last 20 to gain a losing bonus point, which keeps them in the hunt for the trophy, that is if they pick up a bonus point and Fiji lose by more than seven.

Manu Samoa boasts nine changes from last week; former Waratahs winger Alofa Alofa makes an appearance at inside centre, Jordan Lay and Viliamu Afatia come into the front row, Dwayne Polata’vao starts at 10 and Paul Perez will play wing.

Tonga make five changes, Siua Halanukonuka comes in at tighthead, Sitivani Mafi subs in for the injured Dan Faleafa, Cooper Vuna slides in for Penikolo Latu.

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Tonga to win by 6.

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Fiji v Georgia
All Fiji needs to do is win, and they’ll have the cup.

Georgia’s scrum didn’t look all that flash versus Tonga, however Fiji coach John Mckee has acknowledged their strength with a powerful front row, including Campese Ma’afu, Manasa Saulo and Ratu Vera Vugakoto all coming in.

Former Crusader Nemani Nadolo will play at left wing for his 28th cap, while Semi Radradra will make his debut inside him.

Fiji rugby player Nemani Nadolo

Fijian Nemani Nadolo is a star for Fiji. (Photo: AFP)

For the Lelos, Vito Kolelishvili will return from injury, while Lasha Malaguradze and Tamaz Mchedlidze will both enter the backline.

Fiji should win at home, and wrap up the cup, but this game may be more about getting to know the opposition better ahead of their Rugby World Cup clash next year.

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Georgia would love to win the PNC the first year they compete in it, just as Fiji would love to win their fourth consecutive trophy.

As a side note, the Fijian rugby union have offered a kids go free deal, meaning that quite possibly the crowd and atmosphere will be bigger and better.

Fiji by 8.