RWC 2023

Fiji blows away Wallabies in crucial match

September 18, 2023 8:38 am

[Source: World Rugby Cup]

The Fiji Water Flying Fijians have created history after beating two time champions Australia 22-15 for the first time at a Rugby World Cup.

It’s been 69 years since Fiji last beat the Wallabies in a Test following their 18-16 win at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1954.

Fiji played with heart throughout the 80 minutes and one can tell they were still hurting from the result last week against Wales and wanted to stay in the competition.

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An emotional head coach Simon Raiwalui says he couldn’t be more proud of the way his men played today.

“It’s not just today, its a combination of the work that we have done since the beginning of the campaign. The boys have worked really hard, pushed into the limits and never once did they complain and when you work hard, you get the results so yeah super proud of them.”

Two successive penalties against the national side saw Ben Donaldson converting one for a three-point lead.

The national side regrouped and started pressuring the Aussies with some variations in their play.

Josua Tuisova, Levani Botia, Viliame Mata and Lekima Tagitagivalu made some early strong carries that rattled Australia before Simione Kuruvoli slotted a penalty an offside penalty to lock the scores at 3-all after 11 minutes.

Player of the Match Josua ‘The Bus’ Tuisova says it has been a long time coming.

“It’s history and I want to thank the boys for their hard work, and giving everything they got. I told them in the second half to empty the tank, give everything they have, just try to win this game, we treated this game as a final.”

Australia openside flanker Fraser McReight was penalized at a breakdown six minutes later with Kuruvoli adding another three points.

However, a 50-20 kick by halfback Nic White saw Mark Nawaqanitawase ran in to score after a confused Radradra thought it was Fiji’s throw in the lineout.

Nawaqanitawase took a quick throw in to Kerevi before he was tackled by Nayacalevu close to the tryline but he was able to release the ball to his winger to score.

Kuruvoli put Fiji back in front with his third penalty after the referee penalized White for a high tackle on our halfback before adding another for the Waisea Nayacalevu-captained side to lead 12-8 at halftime.

Captain Waisea Nayacalevu says this win is special.

“I told the boys today, today this is our final, today will determine whether we want to go up to the quarters or not so our mindset was to come into this week, do-or-die so we came here to do our best, fight until the end and the result will take care of itself.”

Despite two lineouts inside their red zone, Australia still contested Fiji’s throws and were successful on two occasions before the break.

Winger Jiuta Wainiqolo was injured after his first carry in the second spell and he was replaced by Vinaya Habosi.

A box kick by Kuruvoli was uncontested by the Australians who let the ball bounce but it went straight into the hands of Tuisova who ran away to score.

Kuruvoli added the extra two points for a personal tally of 14 points in the match before he was replaced by Frank Lomani.

[Source: World Cup 2023]

Australia’s coach Eddie Jones brought in Suliasi Vunivalu and moved Nawaqanitawase to fullback with Donaldson shifting to flyhalf.

Jones’s counterpart Simon Raiwalui changed his front-row after 10 minutes with Peni Ravai, Tevita Ikanivere and Mesake Doge coming in.

The Flying Fijians forwards never stepped back from the get go and were clinical in the contact zone with Botia winning the battle at the breakdown at crucial times.

Tuisova was at his usual best and the Aussies had to work overtime when he gets the ball.

Fiji’s demolition man, Botia, had to leave the field due to injury while Doge had an head injury assessment.

Albert Tuisue was introduced as substitute for Botia while Tagi returned for Doge.

Our side kept the scoreboard pressure after Lomani nailed a penalty 15 minutes from full-time but Australia closed the gap with Vunivalu crashing over from five meters out.

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