Rodrigo Marta's late try gives Portugal victory by 24-23 in Toulouse and an historic first World Cup win – but Fiji qualify for the knockout stage and send Australia out
The Pacific Islanders only needed a point to clinch second spot in Pool C and book a last-eight date with England in Marseille next Sunday. It was mission accomplished – but not before Portugal snatched victory with a last-minute try by Rodrigo Marta. Watch it below…
Earlier in the competition, they missed a last-gasp penalty that would have beaten Georgia. But this time Samuel Marques, their regular kicker, was still on the pitch and he slotted the extras. Portugal then gathered the restart and wound the clock down before kicking the ball dead and leaping in ecstatic celebration.
Quite what Fiji made of it is hard to guess. On the evidence of their past two performances they will not be creating further history against England.
Still, they got the job done. And the Wallabies, so disappointing these past few weeks, deservedly go home, edged out by Fiji by virtue of the head-to-head record.
In earning a losing bonus point, Fiji secured their third World Cup quarter-final – after 1987 and 2007. They have made a bold statement for the under-resourced nations at this World Cup and they will surely have the support of every neutral next weekend.
Sat 14 Oct Wales v Argentina (4pm, Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)
Sat 14 Oct Ireland v New Zealand (8pm, Stade de France, Paris)
Sun 15 Oct England v Fiji (4pm, Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)
Sun 15 Oct France v South Africa (8pm, Stade de France, Paris)
There was a carnival atmosphere at Stade de Toulouse and fair to say nobody expected these two teams of dash and derring-do to go in at the break at 3-3.
Fiji were happy to be pragmatic in the early stages, kicking for territory. But when they did choose to run the ball they were let down by a stream of handling errors that disrupted the flow of the game.
Perhaps it was a cunning ploy because the one area where the Islanders excelled was the scrummage. Yet even there, there was a blip because their scrum – the only 100% operation in the tournament prior to kick-off – conceded an unexpected penalty.
Frank Lomani kicked Fiji ahead after Portugal went offside, and scrum-half Marques levelled just before the turnaround. That came shortly after Raffaele Storti had missed a golden opportunity by knocking on as he slithered on the turf in a bid to touch down his jabbed kick.
That aside, there were a couple of big hits by Josua Tuisova, a powerful diagonal run by Vinaya Habosi and even a fine clearance from Portugal hooker Mike Tadjer – in his last-ever Test match – to enjoy. But not too much else.
And then the match exploded. Jerónimo Portela took a high ball, Pedro Bettencourt threaded a grubber kick to the corner and Storti steamed on to the ball to score. The stadium erupted.
From the restart, left-wing Marta burst clear and a try seemed certain. But the ball went loose and suddenly Sireli Maqala scorched away for Fiji. Portugal flooded back impressively but Levani Botia went over from the ruck.
Fiji barely had time for a sigh of relief when Botia was sin-binned for a high tackle on Marta. Then prop Francisco Fernandes got the ball down from a maul and Marques’s conversion restored Portugal’s seven-point advantage.
Their World Cup future now hanging in the balance, Fiji needed a reaction and we saw it. Their failure to look after the ball in contact continued – twice they fluffed gilt-edged chances – but they kept Os Lobos pinned back and under pressure.
In the end the dam broke as replacement tighthead Mesake Doge burrowed over from close range. Lomani converted to level the scores at 17-17 and then with eight minutes left punished a Portuguese indiscretion to nudge Fiji ahead.
Another Lomani penalty seemed to put the tin hat on a rather untidy victory – but then Portugal struck to spark wild celebrations.
Portugal captain José Lima said: “When we saw all the Portuguese fans behind us it sent shivers down us. This date will go down in history and it is fantastic when you do something that stays for ever. We can say that we did it.
“I hope this is the first step of something bigger for Portuguese rugby. We waited a long time to qualify for a World Cup and we have realised how fantastic it is to be here. We need to be at the next World Cup.”
Fiji Sireli Maqala; Selesitino Ravutaumada, Waisea Nayacalevu (capt), Josua Tuisova, Vinaya Habosi; Vilimoni Botitu, Frank Lomani; Eroni Mawi, Sam Matavesi, Luke Tagi, Isoa Nasilasila, Temo Mayanavanua, Meli Derenalagi, Levani Botia, Viliame Mata.
Replacements 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Mesake Doge, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Albert Tuisue, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Teti Tela, 23 Iosefo Masi.
Portugal Manuel Cardoso Pinto; Raffaele Storti, Pedro Bettencourt, José Lima (capt), Rodrigo Marta; Jerónimo Portela, Samuel Marques; Francisco Fernandes, Mike Tadjer, Diogo Hasse Ferreira, José Madeira, Steevy Cerqueira, David Wallis, Nicolas Martins, Rafael Simões.
Replacements 16 David Costa, 17 Duarte Diniz, 18 Anthony Alves, 19 Duarte Torgal, 20 João Granate, 21 João Belo, 22 Tomás Appleton, 23 Vincent Pinto.
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