FIJI, SAMOA FACE SHOWDOWN IN RUGBY WORLD CUP

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Sunday to set for first head to head battle

By Josefa Makaba SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 22, 2011) - The stage is set for what should be a fiery clash between Fiji and Samoa at Eden Park this Sunday. The Pool D match will be a historic occasion for the Pacific rivals as it will be the first time they will meet in a Rugby World Cup (RWC). But for the 60,000 fans who have booked their tickets for this very important clash, that will be far from their minds. Auckland is home to a big community of former Samoa and Fiji residents and most are expected at Eden Park this weekend.

It is evident as we traveled throughout the city of Auckland and out onto the suburbs that the support for the Flying Fijians and Samoa is equaled only by neighbors Tonga.

The support is much bigger than that given to the All Blacks. Everywhere we go we can see the flags of Fiji and Samoa and of course Tonga on cars, houses, factories and even a church had a big Tonga flag flying high. The two training venues of both the Flying Fijians and Samoa have been packed by their supporters. At Mount Smart Stadium number 2 ground where the Fijians train a big number of fans came out during their open training session on Tuesday. With their Fiji flags and face painted the fans cheered the team as they went through their drills.

Included in the groups that came for the training session were some kids from a local primary school. As they were asked by the MC who will win this Sunday? They waved the Fijian flags and shouted Samoa. Majority of kids in that group were from Samoa, so it was not a surprise.

But the game could be the biggest ever to be played between the two traditional rivals. The game is not only their first meeting in a RWC but the result of this game could also determine who has a chance of making the quarterfinals. Both teams have won one game and lost one so this match will not be the biggest (crowd) they have ever played in front of but also the biggest as it determines their world cup survival.

Flying Fijians coach Samu Domoni and his players have also acknowledged how important this game is to them. Domoni said they know it would be tough but they had prepared and had a game-plan for this match.

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