The Flying Fijians blew Wales' Pool C wide open in Saint-Étienne


Fiji beat Australia to keep their World Cup hopes alive in Saint-Étienne, blowing Wales’ Pool C wide open.

The Flying Fijians came so close to beating Wales in their opening fixture but did not make the same mistake against Eddie Jones’s Wallabies as Player of the Match Josua Tuisova’s try and 14 points from the boot of Simione Kuruvoli sunk Australia.

Related: Controversial Nawaqanitawase try leaves Fiji players stunned

Kuruvoli’s penalties had given Fiji a 9-3 lead, Ben Donaldson striking one for Australia, before Mark Nawaqanitawase scored the first try of the game in controversial fashion. Nic White’s 50:22 was taken quickly by the winger to Samu Kerevi who hurled the ball inside for Nawaqanitawase to score but replays appeared to show an infringement from towering second-row Richie Arnold.

Another penalty gave Fiji a 12-8 cushion at half-time and things got even better when Australia’s Carter Gordon failed to claim a high ball and the bounce fell kindly for Tuisova who steamed in down the left wing.

Kuruvoli’s conversion established a nine-point cushion for Simon Raiwalui’s side but when Suli Vuniavalu burrowed over from close range with 12 minutes to go it left the game firmly hanging in the balance.

Read more: Fiji Rugby World Cup squad

Fiji knew they couldn’t lose when winning a penalty at the death with the clock in the red but opted to go for goal to try and deprive the Wallabies of a losing bonus point as the race for the quarter-finals hots up.

Unfortunately for the Pacific Islanders, replacement scrum-half Frank Lomani – who had previously slotted a 66th-minute attempt – dragged his effort wide to ensure Australia did not come away empty handed.

The result means all eyes now turn to Wales versus Australia in Lyon next Sunday with it all to play for.

Rugby World’s verdict on Fiji’s famous victory

Rugby World editor Alan Dymock: “Every World Cup needs – sod it, demands – at least one stirring, shocking, sensational moment. Something even the first-time fans discuss at the watercooler on a Monday. And Fiji have just delivered a first big splash of the 2023 event.

“The night before we saw Portugal push Wales hard, but they still fell away from Welsh power in the end. Uruguay frustrated France and scored first. Chile landed an early try-scoring blow on Samoa too. Romania scored first against Ireland.

“But Fiji have rocked the game in the best possible way. And what makes it so special is that we all suspected they could, and they delivered. So close and yet just far enough away to lose to Wales, we know they have the goods. They saw this one out.

“Pool C is so finely balanced now, a sigh from a fly could tip it in any direction. But whatever Wales and Australia do, Fiji are on a tear and will already have Potugal and Georgia in their sights. And all of these match-ups will have our attention in a headlock. Let’s go!”

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