Fiji outscored Uruguay nine tries to five as they kicked off their World Rugby U20 Trophy campaign with an entertaining victory.
Uruguay have strong pedigree at this level and the South Americans began brightly, but Juan Nicola’s profligacy with the boot meant they only led by five points following Manuel Ardao’s early try.
The misses proved costly as tries from Saimoni Uluinakauvadra and Ilekena Vudogo – either side of another wayward penalty, this time from Matias D’Avanzo – gave Fiji the lead.
Uruguay edged back in front as Ardao scored his second try but once Ratu Meli Turagaca crossed for Fiji on the stroke of half-time the Pacific Islanders never relinquished the lead.
Uluinakauvadra stretched Fiji’s advantage as he touched down for a second time less than two minutes after the restart, and following a Juan Cattivelli penalty for Uruguay, Caleb Muntz danced over for Fiji’s fifth try of the match.
Uruguay did pull within seven points as replacement hooker Nicolas Buysan crashed over, but two tries in as many minutes killed the contest. First winger Viliame Suwawa touched down in the left corner before Ratu Meli Derenalagi finished off a length-of-the-field, try-of-the-tournament contender within a minute of the restart.
The two sides traded a brace of tries in the final quarter as Mateo Vinals and Maxine Sonneveld scored either side of Turagaca’s second of the match. Lekima Nasamila then rounded off the scoring in stoppage time as his converted try took Fiji passed the 50-point mark.
Fiji face Portugal in their next match.
Meanwhile,Frank Vaesavali Tato bagged a hat-trick as the Baby Manu Samoa outclassed Hong Kong 41-20 in the opening match of the tournament in Bucharest.
Samoa were relegated from last year’s Under 20 Championship but have a perfect record in the second tier competition, having won the event in their two previous appearances in 2011 and 2016.
Samoa’s next match is against hosts Romania on Sunday morning.
The winner of the Under 20 Trophy will earn promotion to next year’s top tier Championship.
(Source:World Rugby/Radio New Zealand)