A full review of the Pool A match between Fiji and Uruguay at Stadium MK
This World Cup keeps throwing up enthralling encounters, it was just a shame that this one was marred by a few off-the-ball scuffles late on, one resulting in a red card for Uruguay scrum-half Agustin Ormaechea (his second yellow after a sin-binning in the first half). Fiji scored seven tries in all and dominated the scrum, but Uruguay had inspired moments of their own, crossing twice and showing great commitment in attack and defence.
The willingness to run – Too often these days we see sides wary of taking risks and more likely to put boot to ball, but these two teams were happy to run from anywhere. There were plenty of uncompromising hits, but what was most evident over the 80 minutes was that players wanted to keep the ball in hand and looked to attack the space, even if that meant running from their own 22. And that approach kept the crowd engaged in the game.
Fancy footwork – Fiji scrum-half Nemia Kenatale deserves a mention for the impressive balance and spatial awareness he showed to hand off Alejo Duran and score in the corner without putting a limb in touch. Fabulous skills. Poor Duran, meanwhile, later found himself upended by another strong hand-off from Levani Botia.
A Uruguay try – They’ve done it! Hooker Carlos Arboleya picked a great line to surge through Fiji’s defence and touch down under the posts to score Uruguay’s first try of the World Cup. Agustin Ormaechea then added another in the second half. Now all 20 teams of the tournament have scored a try.
Leone Nakarawa – The Fiji lock is a one-man wrecking machine. He does his jobs in the lineout and defence, but it’s as an attacker that he really comes to the fore. He has an astounding ability to offload, almost as if he has arms like an octopus, and one great pass led to the Fiji’s first penalty try. He also produced a great dummy to score a try of his own just before half-time. All in all, he’s just so entertaining to watch.
The weather – The World Cup up until this point has been extremely lucky with the weather, blue skies and plenty of sunshine. That’s changed this week, with the rain hammering down before kick-off and at times during the game. At least it didn’t seem to dampen the mood of the crowd, or either teams’ attitude in attack.
The Uruguay scrum – It’s not surprising that Uruguay’s amateur pack found themselves on the back foot against Fiji, particularly given the size differential, but it meant they struggled to retain possession even on their own put-in. Fiji have proved throughout this World Cup how they have improved as a scrummaging unit and it paid off here, one powerful drive resulting in a penalty try as Uruguay’s front row collapsed.
Temper tantrums – Emotions ran high late in the game and the last 20 minutes were soured by several scuffles off the ball, which resulted in cards for both teams. Images that no one likes to see.
32 – The number of consecutive Tests in which Fiji have scored a try, the longest run of any Test team.
517 – The number of metres made by Fiji, more than twice as many as Uruguay (239).
4 – The number of turnovers made by Fiji captain Akapusi Qera while Uruguay skipper Santiago Vilaseca made the most tackles (16).
Fiji: K Murimurivalu; A Tikoirotuma, V Goneva (T Nagusa 65), L Botia, N Nadolo; B Volavola (J Matavesi 69), N Kenatale (H Seniloli 61); C Ma’afu (D Waqaniburotu 79), S Koto (V Veikoso 75), L Atalifo (T Koroi 75), A Ratuniyarawa (T Cavubati 56), L Nakarawa, D Waqaniburotu (P Ravia 67), A Qera (capt), S Matadigo (N Talei 56).
Tries (7): Penalty 2, Kenatale, Nakarawa, Cuvabati, Murimurivalu, Nadolo. Cons: Nadolo 6.
Yellow card: Ma’afu (66).
Uruguay: G Mieres; S Gibernau (F Bulanti 75), J Prada, A Vilaseca (J Etcheverry 65), R Silva; A Duran, A Ormaechea; A Corral (M Sanguinetti ht), C Arboleya, M Sagario (O Duran 65), S Vilaseca (capt), J Zerbino (M Palomeque 65), JM Gaminara (J De Freitas 75), M Beer (F Lamanna 71), A Nieto.
Tries (2): Arboleya, Ormaechea. Con: Ormaechea. Pens: Duran.
Yellow card: Ormaechea (3). Red card: Ormaechea (66).
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Man of the Match: Leone Nakarawa