Selections Week 3 2023

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In week 3 the HSBC Sevens Series for both men and women kicks off for the year at Hamilton, New Zealand. The Pro D2 take a bye week while the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions head into the final round.

Challenge Cup Round 4 Jan 20-22

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Toulon – Waisea Nayacalevu 13, Jiuta Wainiqolo 14 vs Zebre

Nayacalevu returns for Toulon. His first match since the Autumn Nations Tour with the Flying Fijians. Wainiqolo starts after coming off the bench last week. Toulon are 3 from 3 while Zebre are yet to post a win.

Nayacalevu looked to have scored the first try but it was disallowed due to a knock on in a previous ruck. Wainiqolo scores a beauty right on halftime. The flying winger ran out of room down the left touchline, came searching in-field and ran the best part of 40 metres to score the first try of the match. Final score Toulon 14-5.

Bristol – Siva Naulago 11, Semi Radradra 13 | Perpignan – Taniela Ramasibana 6, Eddie Sawailau 13

Bristol yet to lose a match in the Challenge Cup and could assure their place in the group of 16 with a victory in a favourable matchup. Radradra’s eye injury last week won’t keep him out of this match.

The Bears were brilliant in the first half putting up a 33-7 scoreline but the 2nd half turned into a complete mess. The young USAP side fought back and forced Bristol into a series of mistakes. Final score 33-19.
Naulago scored in the 27th minute.

Bath – Joe Cokanasiga 14 @ Glasgow

Bayonne – Eneriko Buliruarua 23 vs Scarlets

Sireli Maqala yet to play in the Challenge Cup. Bayonne instead using him only in their Top 14 matches. They have scored the joint least tries in the competition thus far with 3.

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Brive – Tevita Ratuva 6, Setareki Bituniyata 12, Setariki Tuicuvu 13 vs Cardiff

Ratuva returns from suspension while Bituniyata returns from injury. His first match since round 1 of the Top 14 back in September last year. Usually accustomed to the wing he gets a start at inside centre which is an interesting prospect. He has the size and skill to really cause some issues in the midfield.

Brive won the match 37-24. Tuicuvu had some good moments specifically and top shelf offload to set up a try in the 2nd half. He made the most metres in the match with 81 off 12 runs.

Stade Francais – Peniasi Dakuwaqa 23 @ Benetton

Onisi Ratave rested this match. Dakuwaqa plays his 2nd match after making his debut last weekend.

Dakuwaqa came on in the 66th minute and still managed to make the 2nd most metres for Paris. Most of that came from a sideline dash beating the fullback with his pace and scoring his first try for the club. Benetton however won the match 35-32, their 6th straight.

Pau – Lekima Tagitagivalu 19 @ Cheetahs

No Jale Vatubua this week. Aminiasi Tuimaba still yet to play this season.

Champions Cup Round 4 Jan 20-22

Lyon – Josua Tuisova 13, Temo Mayanavanua 19 vs Bulls

Lyon will not take part in the Champions Cup round of 16 having not won a game heading into this final round. They will however contest the Challenge Cup.

As expected Lyon too good winning 31-7. Mayanavanua was named in the Champions Cup team of the week for his performance.

La Rochelle – Levani Botia 6 @ Northampton

Botia at 6 has been a success for La Rochelle. He was outstanding in his last match 2 weeks ago, leaving the field to a standing ovation from the crowd.

Botia scored the first try of the match in the 26th minute when he powered over close to the line. Another big game at flanker who secured 2 turnovers and made 28 metres of 7 carries. There’s no going back to centre now it seems, he’s too good in the forwards. He left the game in the 45th minute with what looks like a minor hamstring or thigh injury. La Rochelle eliminate Northampton from the Champions Cup and secure a home game in the round of 16. (31-13).
Botia was named in the Champions Cup team of the week for his performance.

Gloucester – Albert Tuisue 8 @ Bordeaux

Tuisue returns from suspension for his first match this year. Gloucester sit in 9th position and will need a big win to progress.

As he did in has last return from suspension, Tuisue has a big game and a try to go along with it. The Flying Fijians backrower picked up from the base of the scrum 5 metres out to power over in the 46th minute. Gloucester book their place in the finals with a 26-17 win.

Racing – Kitione Kamikamica 8, Peniami Narisia 16

Kamikamica earns a starting jersey after a solid performance off the bench last week which included a try. Good to see Narisia getting game time. He will be a contender for a hooker spot at the RWC.

A big shift from Kamikamica making 15 tackles, 13 carries and 28 metres. Racing did it tough though, Leinster coming away with a 36-10 victory.

Castres – Adrea Cocagi 12 @ Exeter

Castres rotating their roster. Cocagi starts while Botitu, Nakarawa & Raisuqe rested following last weeks loss to Edinburgh.

Castres exit the tournament after losing 40-3. Exeter were too clinical and played some great rugby at times.

Edinburgh – Viliame Mata 8 | Saracens – Eroni Mawi 17

Mata was one of Edinburgh’s best in their win over Castres last round. A tough matchup with Saracens. The loser of the match is in danger of dropping out of the round of 16 qualification. Eroni Mawi a late addition for Saracens.

Mata with an incredible 20 carries in this match. 79 metres gained, 3 shy of the game high 82. Edinburgh won the match 20-14 but Saracens secure a home final with a bonus point for finishing within 7.

Our rolling Top 10 Players heading into week 3

Nationale Round 16 Jan 20-22

Bressane – Kavekini Tabu 11 | Cognac – Jone Tuva 11, Eneri Lotawa 13

Tabu returns for Bressane.

Tabu scored the first try of the match in the 10th minute. Tuva scored in the 62nd minute for Cognac. Bressane were too good winning 32-14.

Bourgoin – Kemueli Lavetanakoroi 4, Naibuka Rokua 11, Joketani Koroi 23 | Stade Nicois – Sakiusa Bureitakiyaca 14, Laijiasa Bolenaivalu 20

Koroi plays his first game for Bourgoin since leaving Nice, their opponents this week.

Rokua was sin binned early in the match. Bourgoin won the match 27-16.

Suresnes – Petero Tuwai 12 | Narbonne – Luke Nakobukobua 8

Nakobukobua has been our most impressive player over the first half of the tournament. The backrower has been a revelation for Narbonne in his first year for the club.

Narbonne too good comfortably winning 36-13.

Tarbes – Jone Seuvou 5, Josaia Vakacegu 12 vs Blagnac

Match ended in a 29 all draw.

Valence – Ben Neiceru 12 vs Rennes

Neiceru scored in the 17th minute. Valence won the match 17-10.

Chambery – Vereniki Goneva 22 vs Dax

Dax came away with a 16-11 win.

Championship Round 13 Jan 21

Bedford – Tui Uru 8 | Cornish Pirates – Rusiate Tuima 8

Uru scored a try in the 23rd minute. The Blues comfortable winners 55-13.

London Scottish – Billy Wara 23 @ Jersey Reds

Wara gets his 2nd match after making his debut last weekend.

London Scottish trailed for most of the match and had a chance to win it at the end but couldn’t get the job done. Jersey win 24-22.

Nottingham – Phil Cokanasiga 12 vs Caldy

Cokanasiga gets his first start in the Championship this season after appearances in the Premiership and Rugby Cup for Leicester.

Caldy winners 29-17.

League One Round 5 Jan 21-22

Yokohama Canon Eagles – Viliame Takayawa 14 | NEC Green Rockets – Aseri Masivou 8

No Inoke Burua for the Canon Eagles who are coming off a huge win over Kintetsu where they posted 74 points. The Green Rockets won in round 1 and haven’t posted a win since.

The Canon Eagles too strong handing the Green Rockets their 4th straight loss 36-12.

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Ricoh Black Rams – Nathan Hughes 8, Netani Vakayalia 11 | Saitama Wild Knights – Marika Koroibete 11

Hughes returns to the starting side for Ricoh who have won their last 2 matches after losing their first 2. A tough test this week though against the undefeated Wild Knights. Vakayalia has scored in both games to start the calendar year and 3 from his first 4 matches of the season.
Koroibete was outstanding last week for Panasonic. He was our week 2 player of the week.

The Black Rams kept things close in the opening period but the Wild Knights ran away to a 30-3 lead before Ricoh scored 2 quick tries. Vakayalia set up the first and scored the second. He continues a solid run of form. Wild Knights win 38-17.Koroibete also set up a try and scored his 3rd try of the season.

Kintetsu Liners – Semisi Masirewa 15 vs Tokyo Suntory

Toshiba Brave Lupus – Michael Leitch 8, Seta Tamanivalu 13, Jone Naikabula 14 | Toyota Verblitz – Viliame Tuidraki 11, Vitaliai Tuidraki 13, Jone Nabetelevu 23

Jone Naikabula comes into this game on the back of 4 tries in 2 weeks. The Toshiba trio of Naikabula, Seta Tamanivalu and Michael Leitch all have been in a solid form this season.

Tamanivalu scored a double and set up Naikabula who scored a 45 metre special where he beat several cover defenders on his way to try #5 for the season. Brave Lupus far too good 63-25.

Mitsubishi Dynaboars – Sam Chongkit 19 | Shizouka Blue Revs – Samuela Anise 19

No Epineri Uluiviti for the Dynaboars. Isi Naisarani (injury) yet to play this season for Shizouka.

The game finished with the two sides locked at 27-27.

Division 2 Round

Hino Red Dolphins – Zephaniah Tuinona 4, Josefa Lilidamu 13 vs Uruyasu D-Rocks

Tuinona returns for his 2nd match of the season. Lilidamu coming off a try scoring effort last weekend.

The D-Rocks shot out to a 20-0 lead before the Dolphins started pegging them back. Final score Uruyasu 41-26.

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HSBC Sevens Hamilton Jan 20-21

Fiji Men – Josua Vakurunabili 1, Jeremaia Matana 2, Sevuloni Mocenacagi 3, Tira Patterson 4, Josevani Drava 5, Filipe Sauturaga 6, Waisea Nacuqu 7, Pilipo Bukayaro 8, Iowane Teba 9, Manueli Maisamoa 10, Vuiviawa Naduvaco 11, Jerry Tuwai 12, Alasio Naduva 13, Josese Batirerega 14*

Tuwai returns for his first tournament this season. Joseva Talacolo out injured while Iowane Raturaciri and Paula Nayacakalou not considered for selection (FRU). Batirerega could make his debut at this tournament.

Game 1 – Fiji 26-10 France. A good start to the tournament for Fiji.
Game 2 – Fiji 21-7 Kenya. Fiji will meet Samoa in a blockbuster to round off day 1.
Game 3 – Fiji 22-12 Samoa. A big win over the Series leaders.
A disciplined first couple games before they caught fire against Samoa in an absolute epic encounter. Fiji prevailed 22-12 scoring some breathtaking tries.
Cup Quarter Final – Fiji 10-19 Argentina. A determined Argentine side were too good for Fiji who exit the main competition and will fight for 5th position now.
5th Placed Semi – Fiji 19-26 Australia.

Japan – Kameli Soejima 5

New Zealand – Akuila Rokolisoa 4

Great Britain – Api Bavadra 23

Women – Rejieli Daveua 1, Rusila Nagasau 2, Vani Buleki 3, Talei Wilson 4, Ivamere Nabura 5, Vasiti Solikoviti 6, Lavena Cavuru 7, Maria Rokotuisiga* 8, Viniana Riwai 9, Reapi Uluinasau 10, Ana Naimasi 11, Ilisapeci Delaiwau 12, Younis Bese 13

Game 1 – Fiji 19-14 Great Britain. Ana Maria Naimasi becomes the all time leaing tryscorer for the Fiji Women’s team with her 61st try on the series.
Game 2 – Fiji 0-27 New Zealand. The host nation proving too strong for our girls in this one.
Game 3 – Fiji 50-0 PNG. Fiji too strong for Papua New Guinea. Our women will play the USA in the quarters.
Cup Quarter Final – Fiji 7-27 USA. 5th place is the target now after exiting the Cup competition.
5th Place Semi – Fiji 0-12 Great Britain
7th Place Playoff – Fiji 5-34 France
Our girls finish the tournament in 8th position. Not the best start to the year but they get to improve on that showing next weekend in Sydney.

Tryscorers

Challenge Cup – Jiuta Wainiqolo, Siva Naulago, Peniasi Dakuwaqa

Champions Cup – Albert Tuisue, Levani Botia

Championship – Tui Uru

Nationale – Ben Neiceru, Jone Tuva, Kavekini Tabu

League One – Marika Koroibete, Netani Vakayalia, Seta Tamanivalu x 2, Jone Naikabula

HSBC Sevens Men – Tira Wilagi, Waisea Nacuqu x 4, Filipe Sauturaga x 2, Manueli Maisamoa x 2, Viwa Naduvaco x 2, Akuila Rokolisoa, Jerry Matana x 2

HSBC Sevens Women – Ana Maria Naimasi, Lavena Cavuru, Ad Vani Buleki x 2, Maria Rokotusiga x 4, Rusila Nagasau, Talei Wilson, Ilisapeci Dalewau

This article will be updated frequently throughout the weekend.

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Most Tries in active r.u competitions

Clermont winger Alivereti Raka has scored 7 tries in the 2022/2023 Top 14 Season and 1 in the Champions Cup.

Alivereti Raka
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Jiuta Wainiqolo
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Kaminieli Rasaku
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Jone Naikabula
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Mosese Mawalu
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Kolinio Ramoka
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Luke Nakobukobua
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Joe Ravouvou
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Henry Speight
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