Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Fiji earn bonus in heartbreaking RWC loss

The Flying Fijians came away with a bonus point in their heartbreaking 32-26 loss to Wales in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup at Matmut Atlantique today.

A strong fightback fell short as the Pacific Island nation was hard done by discipline and a more experienced Welsh outfit.

Wales pivot Dan Biggar scored first points for his side when an isolated Albert Tuisue found no support just two minutes in through a swiftly struck penalty from 40 metres out.

The Welsh struck again soon after a setpiece line-up found George North breaking through in midfield.

Quick recycled ball found an overlap with blindside wing Josh Adams over in the corner for the first try of the game on seven minutes, however Biggar was unable to add the two points.

Fiji was gifted a penalty but a chance from fly-half Teti Tela to lodge first points just shaved the uprights.

Fiji would settle soon after and after regaining composure a tackle bursting break from the skipper Waisea Nayacalevu had him break through to race over and score Fiji’s first try with halfback Frank Lomani adding the conversion on 14 minutes.

Fiji would extend their lead when a midfield set piece moved displayed with all the flair, saw Semi Radradra clean through to find openside flanker Lekima Tagitagivalu in open space to score his first try at international level.

Lomani would add the conversion to complete the compliment.

The Welsh objective was clear with the utilization of Biggar.

An infringement in the ruck had the Biggar add his second pinpoint penalty of the match to close the lead to three points on 24 minutes.

The red machine would push Fiji again and for over 10 phases have them camped on their own tryline.

Continued hammer and anvil attacks finally allowed a chink in the armour to send North through again for a try of his own with Biggar adding the conversion on 30 minutes.

The Welsh defence would play key in the final 10 minutes of the match, weathering the Fiji attack time and time again in their own 22.

They would hold to go to the half-time break with a slender 18-14 lead.

Wales won a penalty immediately at the restart and only a minute in but the penalty attempt from Biggar was uncharacteristically missed.

The humidity proved an obstacle against the flamboyant Fijians, with numerous go forward opportunities wasted due to a slippery pill and handling errors.

The red dragon had all the intent in the second spell and a Biggar crosskick was miscalculated by a pouncing Vinaya Habosi allowing speed merchant Louis Rees-Zammit over in the corner with Biggar adding the conversion on 49 minutes.

Fiji attacked and kept the Welsh defence on their try line for near on 10 minutes.

But the resilient red wall failed to break.

The play was bought to the opposite side of the pitch and after a yellow card to try scorer Tagitagivalu had them score their third try of the match through replacement prop Elliot Dee with Biggar adding the two points and 13 minutes left on the clock.

The latter looked visibly as the nail in the coffin for the South Sea Islanders, with a fight back now near on impossible.

Both sides were reduced to 14 men when replacement hooker Corey Domachowski was caught for a technicality in the ruck giving the Fijians another attacking opportunity to try to turn the deficit.

Replacement back Josua Tuisova would crash through on 73 minutes to get one back with Tela adding two more points with the extras.

Peni Ravai looked to have crossed the line but the Television Match Official ruled the movement a double, however an advantage for the offside red defence.

Fiji quick tap again and hard work upfront once more had Mosese Doge over to score an important bonus point with Tela however missing an important conversion.

Fiji played to the final whistle pushing from their own 10 metre deep into the opposition 22 with movement worthy of a final.

Fiji however did not come away empty handed claiming important bonus points.

A final chance for Fiji went crashing when a miss pass out wide crucially slipped through Semi Radradra’s hands to roll forward and end the contest.

The teams:

Wales: Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Aaron Wainwright, Jac Morgan (c), Taulupe Faletau Replacements: Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Dillon Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell, Tomos Williams, Sam Costelow, Rio Dyer

Fiji: Ilaisa Droasese; Selesitino Ravutaumada, Waisea Nayacalevu (c), Semi Radradra, Vinaya Habosi; Teti Tela, Frank Lomani; Viliame Mata; Lekima Tagitagivalu, Albert Tuisue; Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Isoa Nasilasila; Luke Tagi, Samuel Matavesi, Eroni Mawi Replacements: Tevita Ikanivere, Peni Ravai, Mesake Doge, Temo Mayanavanua, Levani Botia, Simione Kuruvoli, Josua Tuisova, Sireli Maqala

Noa Biudole
Noa Biudole
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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