Pasifika Sipoti – preview of weekend sports

Moana Pasifika eye win for coach Umaga

Former All Black Fa’alogo Tana Umaga will notch up his 50th match as a head coach in the Super Rugby competition when Moana Pasifika face the Western Force in Perth late Saturday night (NZ time).

The legend has been coach of the Auckland Blues previously.

He says he’s focused on the game ahead but is grateful to reach the feat.

“For me it’s about the team and how we’re going. But it’s an achievement and we’ll tick it off. Hopefully we’ll get a celebration after a good performance by us on the weekend,” Umaga said.

The side named is a strong one and the team will be keen to get a win for their coach.

Umaga says the Force will be tough to beat at home but he is hoping there will be cause for celebration after the game.

“The Force are strong at home and we know it will not be easy for us,” he said.

“We just want to go over there and see if we can turn them over.”

Moana Pasifika rookie Kyren Taumoefolau will also achieve a milestone making his first Super Rugby Pacific start at left wing.

Umaga says Taumoefolau continues to go from strength to strength, hailing from Marlborough and at 20 years of age he’s already played on the biggest rugby stage.

In 2023 he played for the ‘Ikale Tahi at the Rugby World Cup and has also represented Tonga on the World Sevens Circuit.

Last year he was part of the Moana Pasifika U20s team and has now been promoted after joining as a development player in 2024.

Taumoefolau gets another chance to display his strike power and is humbled by the selection.

“I was so happy and excited, I couldn’t wait to tell my family and friends. I’m grateful for the opportunity to showcase my talent and represent my team and family this weekend in Perth,” Taumoefolau said.

“The boys have been really welcoming and it’s been so good to learn off some of the greats in the game. The culture that Moana has allows me to play freely and gives me confidence to play my game.”

Umaga has named a mostly unchanged side to face the Force with some players switching between the bench and the starting 15.

Hard-working flanker Sione Havili Talitui will continue in the captaincy role while Sama Malolo returns to hooker.

Also returning are Sekope Kepu and Christian Lealiifano.

Moana Pasifika match-day 23: (1-15): Abraham Pole, Sama Malolo, Sekope Kepu, Tom Savage, Allan Craig, Jacob Norris, Sione Havili Talitui (c), Lotu Inisi, Ereatara Enari, Christian Lealiifano, Kyren Taumoefolau, Julian Savea, Henry Taefu, Nigel Ah Wong, Danny Toala; RESERVES: (16-23) Samiuela Moli, Sateki Latu, Sione Mafileo, Ola Tauelangi, Irie Papuni, Melani Matavao, William Havili, Pepesana Patafilo.

Drua make changes for Chiefs

Head Coach Mick Byrne has several changes to the side that defeated the Crusaders in Lautoka last weekend, with a whole host of players forcing their way into the matchday 23 to meet the Chiefs on Saturday.

Mesulame Dolokoto, Simione Kuruvoli, Michael Naitokani and Junior Ratuva have been named in the starting lineup.

Also returning to the matchday 23 are Zuriel Togiatama, Samuela Tawake, Peni Matawalu and speedster Taniela Rakuro, all named on the reserve bench.

Byrne has retained experienced front rowers Haereiti Hetet and Jone Koroiduadua plus the locks and loosemen pairings of Mesake Vocevoce (4), Leone Rotuisolia (5), Etonia Waqa (6), Vilive Miramira (7) and captain Meli Derenalagi (8).

Fijian Drua match-day 23: (1-15): Haereiti Hetet, Mesulame Dolokoto, Jone Koroiduadua, Mesake Vocevoce, Ratu Leone Rotuisolia, Etonia Waqa, Vilive Miramira, Meli Derenalagi (c), Simione Kuruvoli, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Junior Ratuva, Michael Naitokani, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese; RESERVES: (16-23) Zuriel Togiatama, Emosi Tuqiri, Samuela Tawake, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Elia Canakaivata, Peni Matawalu, Kemu Valetini, Taniela Rakuro.

Super W rugby

The first round of the 2024 Super W competition kicks off this weekend, with the defending champions Fijiana Drua battling the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.

The Drua have named the experienced Karalaini Naisewa as season captain.

The Mosese Rauluni-coached side for this week includes two debutants – Unaisi Lalabalavu and Merewairita Neivosa – in the starting 15.

Six potential debutants have been named on the bench. They include Loraini Senivutu, Salanieta Nabuli, Tiana Robanakadavu, Aviame Veidreyaki, Merewai Nasilasila and Atelaite Ralivanawa.

Draws for this weekend: Western Force vs Rebels, Waratahs vs Brumbies, Reds vs Fijian Drua.

Super Rugby Under-20s

The Super Rugby U20 competition kicks off on Saturday in Taupou, with the best young players in New Zealand and the Pacific compete against each other.

The third annual tournament will be held in Taupō, with the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders U-20 squads and a New Zealand Barbarians U21 team involved.

The Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika U20 sides will join 162 emerging players from the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Highlanders and a New Zealand Barbarians selection for the third edition of the tournament from March 19-25 at Owen Delany Park in Taupō.

The competition will start with the quarterfinals on Saturday.

The draws: New Zealand Barbarians vs Chiefs, Blues vs Moana Pasifika, Hurricanes vs Fijian Drua, Highlanders vs Crusaders.

Fiji rugby

The fourth round of the Fiji Rugby Union Skipper Cup competition will be held around Viti Levu and Vanua Levu on Saturday.

Matches will be in the men and women’s divisions.

The Vanua Cup competition will also be held on the same day, with the country’s minor union teams competing against each other.

The draws: Skipper Cup (Men Premier/Under-20s): Macuata vs Suva, Lautoka vs Namosi, Tailevu vs Yasawa, Nadroga vs Ba; Marama Cup (Women Senior/Under20): Nasinu vs Suva, Lautoka vs Namosi, Tailevu vs Yasawa, Nadroga vs Navosa; Vanua Trophy (Senior/Under-20s): Malolo vs Serua, Ovalau vs Nasinu, Cakaudrove vs Bua, Nanukuloa vs Northland, Rewa vs Northern Bulls, Taveuni vs Ra, Vatukoula vs Tavua; Women Ranadi Trophy: Malolo vs Serua, Bua vs Cakaudrove, Taveuni vs Macuata, Nanukuloa vs Ra, Rewa vs Northern Bulls, Ovalau vs Northland, Vatukoula vs Tavua.

OFC Women’s Champions League

Narieta Leba’s first-half double for Labasa Women FC has given the Fijian side a much needed win at the OFC Women’s Champions League, beating Tonga’s Veitongo 2-0 in Honiara.

With Labasa Women FC and Auckland United both on four points and AS Academy Féminine on three, the Fijians have set up an electrifying final group game with the reigning champions to determine who will progress to the knock out stages.

Matches: Hekari United vs Avatiu FC, Henderson Eeles vs Tafea, Labasa FC vs AS Academy Feminine, Veitongo FC vs Auckland United.

Rugby league

The Fiji Kaiviti Silktails want to put on a good show for the home fans in round two of the Jersey Flegg Cup against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Churchill Park on Saturday.

FBC sports reports coach Wes Naiqama says there’s a lot of learning and they strive to get better every week.

“We will get better every week and we know we are near our potential, we have a big turnover of players,” he said.

“Still we didn’t really get the trial matches we were going into. Every team has two trial matches or one match and we have sort of just gotten into it which is out of control but we won’t be making excuses.

“We will definitely get better every week. We have laid some really good foundations and taken massive learnings from that.”

Silktails and the Rabbitohs will clash at 1pm (NZ time) at Churchill Park in Lautoka.

NRL round of matches

Another big round of NRL matches this weekend around Australia as games are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

In a Thursday night clash, the Broncos defeated Rabbitohs 28-18.

Draws: Sharks vs Bulldogs, Panthers vs Eels, Raiders vs West Tigers, Cowboys vs Knights, Storm vs Warriors, Sea Eagles vs Roosters, Dragons vs Dolphins.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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