Fiji's new recruits make it look easy

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The Independent Online
ROBERT COLE

Wales A 10 Fiji 25

Fiji's new policy of introducing overseas players into their ranks looks as though it is going to pay handsome dividends. The New Zealand influence on their game was clearly evident as they put Wales A to the sword.

There were seven players with provincial experience from New Zealand in the side at the Brewery Field, Bridgend and they carried better skills and determination than their Welsh counterparts.

When the itinerary for the seven-match tour of Wales was settled, the Fijians asked for their first match to be changed. They thought that playing Wales's second string was going to prove too tough a start. When the Welsh selectors chose 13 full caps in their side those fears looked like turning into a reality. Not so, though, on the day.

Wales were as inept as the Fijians were exciting. The result will have left the Wales A coach, Kevin Bowring, with a huge headache as he contemplates how to tackle his caretaker assignment as the national coach for the Test on 11 November.

The Welsh selectors will announce their international line-up tomorrow and on this showing only the Llanelli duo of Wayne Proctor and Justin Thomas deserve consideration.

Proctor scored the A team's only try, although the French referee Patrick Thomas turned it into a penalty try because of the head-high tackle performed on him by Philippe Rayasi, and it came as a direct result of Justin Thomas's flair and vision.

There was little else to admire in the Welsh performance and it obviously failed to make an impression on the Fijian's technical adviser, Brad Johnstone.

"We were very disappointed in the way Wales A performed. We thought they would produce a lot more than that," Johnstone said.

The one area of genuine concern for the tourists came in the goal-kicking department. The outside-half Rasolosolo Bogisa succeeded with only one conversion and penalty from eight attempts. As it was they had to rely on tries to earn them a significant victory.

Their first, from the Canterbury wing, Paula Bale, gave them a 8-3 interval lead and their second, by the Counties flanker, Waisiki Masirewa, restored their lead midway through the second-half.

A final flourish of two tries in as many minutes from the wings, Mansara Bari and Bale, made it a thoroughly satisfactory start for the tourists.

WALES A: Try Proctor; Conversion Davies; Penalty Davies.

FIJI: Tries Bale 2, Masirewa, Bari; Conversion Bogisa; Penalty Bogisa.

WALES A: J Thomas (Llanelli); A Harris (Swansea), M Taylor (Swansea), G Thomas (Bridgend), W Proctor (Llanelli); A Davies (Cardiff), P John (Pontypridd, capt); A Lewis (Cardiff), R McBryde (Llanelli), S John (Llanelli), G Prosser (Pontypridd), A Moore (Swansea), A Gibbs (Newbridge), S Williams (Neath), O Lloyd (Llanelli). Replacements: M Voyle (Newport) for Lloyd 20-27; for Williams 40-47; for Prosser 51; L Mustoe (Cardiff) for Lewis 65.

FIJI: P Rayasi (King Country); M Bari (Tavua), S Sorovaki (Wellington), L Little (King Country), P Bale (Canterbury); R Bogisa (Nadi), J McClennan (Auckland); J Veitayaki (King Country, capt); E Batimala (Nadroga), E Natuivau (Suva); E Katalau (Poverty Bay), I Tawake (Nadroga), T Tamanivalu (Brothers), D Rouse (Nadi), W Masirewa (Counties).

Referee: P Thomas (France).

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