Fiji stun Wallabies in Saint Etienne

Sun, Sep 17, 2023, 5:25 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Fiji have overpowered the Wallabies in Saint Etienne. Photo: Getty Images
Fiji have overpowered the Wallabies in Saint Etienne. Photo: Getty Images

Fiji have pulled off a major upset with a 22-15 win over the Wallabies in Saint Etienne.

It's their first win over the Wallabies since 1954 as they kept their World Cup hopes alive.

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They started perfectly, with the boot of Simione Kuruvoli giving them a 12-8 lead at the break.

Player of the match Josua Tuisova latched onto a loose ball at the start of the second half to extend the advantage to 22-8.

Suliasi Vunivalu gave the Australians some hope late, only for Fiji to hang on for the victory.

"We're very disappointed," coach Eddie Jones said.

"We started the game very uncharacteristically not like us. We've been really sharp at the start of games, played with a fair bit of pace and precision and today we were sloppy.

"We had times in the game where we got on the front foot but we struggled to get on the front foot and full congratulations to Fiji, they played really well so it's deserved victory for them.

"We've got some work to do for Wales."

The Fijians brought a physical edge in trademark fashion to start the game, brutalising defenders through the likes of Tuisova and Jiuta Wainiqolo.

Ben Donaldson opened the scoring but it was Fiji that looked to tick the scoreboard over throughout the first half through the boot of scrum half Simione Kuruvoli.

Kuruvoli struck two nicely before the Australians showed great game awareness for the opening try. 

It started with a Richie Arnold turnover at the breakdown before Nic White nailed a 50-22.

With Fiji walking back into defence, Samu Kerevi and Mark Nawaqanitawase combined off the quick lineout, with the winger scoring the first try of the game.

A lack of discipline continued to hurt the Wallabies, as Kuruvoli slotted penalty three and four for a 12-6 lead at the break.

Fiji started the second half as they started the first and capitalised on some miscommunication at the back, allowing Tuisova to snatch the loose ball and race away for an easy try.

From here, the Australians threw everything at the opposition line, only for Fiji to continue to win penalties at the breakdown.

The injection of Suliasi Vunivalu provided the spark needed, darting from dummy half to keep the game alive.

The Wallabies looked to tie up, twice finding space through Rob Valetini and Marika Koroibete.

However, Fiji held tough in defence to force the turnover and come away with a famous victory.  

WALLABIES 15

TRIES: Nawaqanitawase, Vunivalu

CONS: Donaldson 0/1

PENS: Donaldson 1/1

FIJI 22

TRIES: Tuisova

CONS: Kuruvoli 1/1, Lomani 1/2

PENS: Kuruvoli 4/4, Lomani 0/1

WALLABIES v FIJI TEAMS

Australia (15-1):  Ben Donaldson; Mark Nawaqanitawase, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete; Carter Gordon, Nic White; Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Tom Hooper; Richie Arnold, Nick Frost; James Slipper, David Porecki (c), Angus Bell

Replacements: Jordan Uelese, Blake Schoupp, Zane Nonggorr, Matt Philip, Rob Leota, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Lalakai Foketi, Suli Vunivalu

Fiji (15-1): Ilaisa Droasese, Jiuta Wainiqolo, Waisea Nayacalevu, Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra, Teti Tela, Simione Kuruvoli, Viliame Mata, Levani Botia, Lekima Tagitagivalu, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Isoa Nasilasila, Luke Tagi, Sam Matavesi, Eroni Mawi. 

Replacements: Tevita Ikanivere, Peni Ravai, Mesaki Doge, Temo Mayanavanua, Albert Tuisue, Frank Lomani, Vilimoni Botitu, Vinaya Habosi.

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (SARU), Chris Busby (IRFU)

TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)

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