RWC 2023

Hard earned win moves us closer to last eight

October 1, 2023 8:03 am

[Source: Rugby World Cup]

A second-half fightback has seen the Fiji Water Flying Fijians put a foot in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.

This is after they beat Georgia 17-12 in their third pool match.

Georgia denied Fiji a bonus point, which means Fiji will need to beat Portugal in the last game to make the last eight.

Article continues after advertisement

Brave Georgia had the first points of the match with a penalty after Levani Botia was penalized at a breakdown.

It was all Georgia in the first 10 minutes, with Fiji losing two lineouts and Teti Tela failing to find touch on one occasion from a penalty.

The Georgians lost two players inside 15 minutes, while it was an error-ridden first 20 for the national team as the Lelos extended their lead with another successful penalty.

Coach Simon Raiwlaui says Georgia came out strong in the first half and controlled the game.

“We managed to get some pressure on them score some points in the second half and get the results but to be fair to Georgia they controlled that first half and potentially could have gone in at halftime with the biggest score so, proud of the boys to get the result but there are plenty of things to work on.”

The Waisea Nayacalevu-captained team never looked like a side that beat Australia two weeks ago, as their game was marred by basic mistakes before Georgia nailed its third successive penalty for a 9-nil lead.

Sam Matavesi didn’t have a good day at the office after not hitting the lineout targets five times.

Fiji never settled in the first spell, as ball security was another area of concern, but Georgia’s defense stood out, giving players like Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra, and Waisea Nayacalevu little space to work with.

Nayacalevu confessed the team did not play to the best of their abilities.

“They came in hard, coming into this week we know Georgia is coming in with physicality and speed as well. In the first half we did not execute a lot of things and we made a lot of mistakes. I keep telling the boys to keep fighting, next jopb, refocus, keep fighting until the end.”

A disallowed Georgia try saw them leading 9-0 at the break.

Fiji’s quest for a dream second-half start hit a brickwall when Radradra copped a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on while Lekima Tagitagivalu lost the ball forward five meters from his own tryline.

However, with 14 men, captain Nayacalevu squeezed in the corner for their first try, which Frank Lomani converted from the sidelines.

Lomani missed a penalty three minutes later before he nailed one in the 64th to put his side in front for the first time.

Simon Raiwalui brought in Vinaya Habosi, Albert Tuisue, and Tevita Ikanivere as replacements for Matavesi, Radradra, and Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta.

The ‘Bossman’ ran in for Fiji’s second, which silenced the thousands of Georgians at Stade De Bordeaux.

Ikanivere broke away from the back of a maul inside Georgia’s 10 meters; he was then supported by Botia, who was caught close to the line, but he managed to get the ball away to Habosi.

Another penalty to Georgia and a late surge were not enough as Fiji hung on for a scrappy win.

Levani Botia was named player of the match and he says they struggled in the first 40 minutes of the game.

“We were struggling with our attack, there was a lot of balls we missed, we were giving away opportunities. We should have gotten points inthe first half but I thank the boys we came through in the second half.”

The Flying Fijians face Portugal next Monday.