The Maori All Blacks had a strong second half to come from behind and beat Fiji 27-26 in a hard fought contest in Suva on Saturday. Fiji had led 26-10 at the break but failed to score a point in the second half, as the Maori side scored 17 points in an impressive effort.
The win extends the Maori All Blacks’ 12-year unbeaten run against international sides to 19 victories, thanks to a concerted effort in the second half.
“They trapped us in that first half, stuck us in our own half and we couldn’t get out,” said Maori skipper Charlie Ngatai, who recently made his full All Blacks Test debut against Samoa in Apia.
“We had to get the ball down their end, and build pressure and phases and hold onto the ball.”
Nemani Nadolo, the Crusaders and Fijian superstar, was in charge of the kicking duties for the hosts, and while he missed a chance to convert Fiji’s Kini Murimurivalu try, he did kick them to an 8-0 lead with a penalty.
Impressive 18-year-old Rieko Ioane scored a try after another penalty exchange, before Nadolo scored his 15th Test try just five minutes out from the halftime break. Akapusi Ngera then extended their lead as he barrelled over from close range.
Damian Mckenzie was rewarded with a try in the second period before Super Rugby Final star Elliot Dixon, scored the winning try late in the game. Otere Black converted and it was heartbreak for the home side, but a great come from behind win for the visitors.
The Maori All Blacks will play the New Zealand Barbarians at Eden Park next weekend.
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