The Flying Fijians began their Pacific Nations Cup title defence with a 24-22 victory over Manu Samoa but coach John McKee was left lamenting a lack of discipline after three players were sent to the sin bin.

Centre Jale Vatubua and captain Akapusi Qera were yellow carded in the first half at ANZ Stadium in Suva although the home side still went into the half-time break leading 17-3, thanks to tries from Kini Murimurivalu, Ben Volavola and Henry Seniloli.

Vereniki Goneva extended Fiji’s buffer to 21 points early in the second spell before Melani Matavao crossed for Samoa’s first try of the match.

Replacement prop Eroni Mawi became the third Fijian player to be shown a yellow card, on test debut no less, with the Manu capitalising on their one man advantage with tries to Jack Lam and Dwayne Polataivaia.

Fiji held on for the win but coach John McKee said their lack of discipline was not good enough.

“I’m disappointed with that. It’s something that we constantly talk about and point these things out because we can’t expect to win the really big games when you’re giving away unnecessary penalties and we’re still getting yellow cards,” he said.

“If we were playing a tier one nation (on Saturday) and we had three people in the sin-bin over the course of a game you wouldn’t expect to win the game.”

The Pacific Nations Cup wraps up this weekend with Tonga taking on Samoa and Fiji up against Georgia in a match that doubles as a winner-takes all title decider.

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