Fiji thrash Cook Islands to qualify for World Cup
June 28, 2014
Fiji celebrate qualifying for the 2015 Rugby World Cup
Fiji qualified for next year's Rugby World Cup by thrashing the Cook Islands 108-6 in Saturday's last qualifying match for the Oceania region.
The win means that Fiji will join England, Wales, Australia and a qualifier and will meet England in the tournament's opening match at Twickenham in September 2015. It will be their seventh World Cup appearance in eight tournaments.
The outcome of the match was never in doubt although with the half-hour approaching the Cook Islands, ranked 46 in the world and with only 500 registered players, led 6-5 as Fiji made a string of handling errors.
But as the mistakes were eliminated, Fiji completely overwhelmed the Cook Islands running in 17 tries. Four tries in 13 minutes before the break sent them in 29-6 up, and the second half was a whirlwind of Fijian tries. It was the Cook Island's heaviest international loss.
"We knew the Cook Islands would come at us in the forwards in the first 20 minutes," Fiji captain Akapusi Qera said. "We expected that and we managed to compensate and come out with the win. It's a big game for us as a team and as a nation. It's a big thing for a rugby player growing up to qualify for the Rugby World cup and that's what motivated us in the second half."
Cook Islands captain, Stade Francais prop Stan Wright said his side were simply overwhelmed by a team which was bigger, stronger, faster and more experienced. "As you can see by the scoreline it was a hard game and we were simply outclassed by a better side," Wright said. "The gap between the elite and us showed out there today and we've got quite a bit of ground to cover to get up to their level. We're not a big nation and we need more guys putting their hands up to play for the Cook Islands because we lack depth and we need more players."
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