By STEVE MASCORD
FIJI’s rugby league side which plays Australia this weekend is prone to emotional outbursts because it contains two sets of brothers, according to North Queensland’s Tariq Sims.
Sims was joined by siblings Ashton and Korbin plus Wes and Kevin Naiqama in the Bati outfit that outclassed Ireland 32-14 at Rochdale’s Spotland Stadium on Monday night, with Aquila Uate celebrating his return to the side with a hat-trick.
But a period in the first half, when Bati players rushed out of the line in an attempt to smash their opponents following a dust-up, concerned coach Rick Stone and senior players.
Decorated former Australia prop Petero Civoniceva described Saturday’s Langtree Park clash with the green and golds as “just another game” but Tariq Sims admitted playing with your own flesh and blood presented unique problems
“It’s unreal but sometimes it’s a bad thing,” he told Fairfax Media.
“You see one of them get tackled and you just want to race in there and help your brother out.
“Well, everyone in the team’s a brother but you want to help your blood out. We’ll make sure we can curb our passion next week.”
The Bati’s little burst of attempted vengeance resulted in a try conceded to Irishman Tyrone McCarthy and, later, interchange man Eloni Vunakece being sent to the sin bin. Stone said “we defended, at times, with too much emotion. That’s something I’ve got to control in the future.”
“Stoney’s right. We need to tone that down a bit; a few of the boys haven’t played for Fiji before,” said Newcastle’s Uate, who has played for Australia since representing Fiji in the 2008 World Cup.
Cheered on by the strong local Fijiann community, the Bati raced to a 10-0 lead after 12 minutes on the back of tries to Uate and man of the match Kevin Naiqama.
But McCarthy sneaking over in the corner after a period when the sides used each other as target practice interrupted their momentum. It was only regained when Tariq Sims reached over his head to score in the 51st minute.
There was a humorous moment when video referee Henry Perenara said “Oh Jesus, I can’t see much there, I can’t tell” when asked to adjudicate on a Korbin Sims touchdown. “I’ll go benefit of the doubt”.
At 77 minutes, it was 32-4. Catalans winger Damien Blanch and Manly forward James Hassan crossed for late Wolfhounds touchdowns to make the scoreline more palatable.
“It’s another game,” 37-year-old Civoniceva said of the clash with his former Test team-mates. “I haven’t really thought about too much.”
Ireland play England on Saturday. Captain Liam Finn said some of the players may have been trying to impress their new team-mates rather than displaying patience.
Coach Mark Aston added: “Brett White was the best player on the field, he was immense.
“I’m sure we can challenge England. Hey, England haven’t been great of late, have they?”
FIJI 32 (Akuila Uate 3, Kevin Naiqama, Tariq Sims, Korbin Sims tries; Wes Naiqama 4 goals) beat IRELAND 14 (Tyrone McCarthy, Damien Blanch, James Hassan tries; Pat Richards goal) at Spotland Stadium, Rochdale. Referee: Phil Bentham (England). Crowd: 8872.
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD