Report | UKAFRL 20-40 Fiji Armed Forces

7th July 2017, 14:30

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Report | UKAFRL 20-40 Fiji Armed Forces

Defeat for the UK Armed Forces in their opening Defence World Cup match.

The UK Armed Forces Rugby League team endured a difficult start to their Defence World Cup campaign, losing out 40-20 to their Fijian counterparts.

Jone Tuiveresa and Marika Tagicakibau both scored early tries, with Iliekena Ninmataiwalu kicking two goals

The Fijians soon led 22-0 after a powerful Selvanaia Koroi finish, before Sgt Dave Hankinson scored, AB Ryan Matthews converting, after a brilliant reverse pass - putting the UK side on the scoreboard.

Ninmataiwalu then kicked another penalty to make it 24-6, but the UKAF side enjoyed a positive start to the second period.

A battling start after the break saw Clarke produce some big hits and move the ball well, with captain LAET Ben Taylor and vice captain Hutchinson all beginning to push the Fijians and then a moment of magic from SAC(T) Jordan Andrade saw him run over for a converted try by Matthews for 24-12 after 50 minutes.

Moments later Birdsall was through, but a forward pass from Flintham saw the score wiped out.

Sgt Dave Hankinson scores | UKAFRL/Gordy Elias

A disappointing start for the Forces | UKAFRL/Gordy Elias

Just as an extended period of UK pressure looked on, Fiji bundled the ball over on 55 minutes and the unconverted try was followed four minutes later with a further six points as Ropate Tobe fed Koroi to score out on the UKAFRL right.

Si Wray dived over out wide with Matthews hitting the upright with the conversion on 68 minutes, while another good chance going begging as Spr Kev Brown just could not collect when well placed on the 10-metre line having been fed by Parry.

With three minutes left, Parry nearly finished off a good move, but he just could not hold on to the ball.

Tagicakibau then ran over in the last minute, with Niumataiwalu converting on the hooter for 40-20.

Head Coach Flt Lt Damian Clayton said: "In some ways, that result makes things easier for us as we now know we have to win both games against Australia and New Zealand if we are to go on and win the World Cup.

"The other thing I also know is this side is not done, they are gutted in the changing rooms, they have not played and although the rest of the teams may see this and think, ‘Oh well that’s them done’, I know it isn't.

"These lads are far from beaten," he added.

"You cannot win a game of Rugby League with a 43 per cent completion rate, which is what we had in the first half. There were far too many handling errors and basic mistakes, but even with 20 minutes to go I thought we would go on and win it."

UKAFRL now face the hosts, Australia, who beat New Zealand 64-8, at Ringrose Park, Cabramatta on July 9, before facing the Kiwis on July 12 at Windsor Stadium.

You can follow the team's progress on Facebook at: 'United Kingdom Armed Forces Rugby League' or on Twitter: @UKArmedForcesRL with full game highlights on YouTube at: UKAFRL 2017.