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Australia 15-22 Fiji: Flying Fijians beat Wallabies for first time at Rugby World Cup

Winger Josua Tuisova plays for Racing 92 in the French Top 14
Australia (8) 15
Try: Nawaqanitawase, Foketi The inconvenients: Donaldson Pens: Donaldson
Fiji (12) 22
Try: Tuisova The inconvenients: Kuruvoli Pens: Kuruvoli 4, Lomani

Fiji beat Australia for only the third time in their history by opening Pool C wide with a thrilling Rugby World Cup victory.

A good kick from Simione Kuruvoli put Fiji ahead 12-8 at half-time before Josua Tuisova crossed after the restart.

Lalakai Foketi crossed late to narrow the gap to 22-15, but Eddie Jones’ side failed to come back.

Fiji’s first ever World Cup victory against the Wallabies puts them ahead of their opponents and into second place in Pool C.

The two men are united on six points after two matches with Fiji in the lead thanks to their head-to-head record.

“I’m emotionally exhausted at the moment,” Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui said after full-time.

“It was a great competition. It kept us going until the end. We pushed the boys to their limits and they never complained.

“I think there will be a few boys injured but I’m super proud.”

With only the top two qualifying for the quarter-finals, Fiji’s match in Saint-Etienne was crucial.

The Flying Fijians lost their first group match 32-26 against Wales and would have faced an uphill battle to reach the round of 16 with a second consecutive defeat.

Victory seemed improbable; they had last beaten Australia 69 years ago and had lost 17 of their last 18 Tests to the Wallabies.

But they started in control, with two penalties from Kuruvoli giving them a 6-3 lead.

A quick lineout after an Australian 50-20 allowed Mark Nawaqanitawase to cross unopposed, putting the double winners in front against the run of play.

But two more Kuruvoli penalties gave Fiji a 12-8 halftime lead.

Group C ranking

Two minutes after the restart, Australia failed to deal with a routine kick and Tuisova latched onto the loose ball before diving into the corner.

And the lead was increased to 22-8 by a Kuruvoli penalty in the 65th minute, although the scrum-half missed another kick, which would have given his side a 15-point advantage.

Australian Kuruvoli scored 12 minutes from time to set up a grandstand finish, but that was his last score as Fiji fought back resolutely in the closing stages.

Fiji’s victory was Fiji’s 15th against a top-ranked nation and second in three weeks, after beating England during a warm-up match in August.

Kuruvoli missed a last-minute penalty that would have deprived Australia of a losing bonus point.

But the Fijians, who next face Georgia after a week’s rest, are in an excellent position to reach the World Cup round of 16 for only the third time.

“We were off today” – Jones

Wallabies head coach Jones has admitted his side now have “some thinking to do” after being “outplayed”.

Australia has never failed to make it out of the group stage at a World Cup.

But as pool leaders Wales play next week, they are in serious danger of recording their worst ever result.

“For whatever reason, we were just behind today. If you look at the stats, we dominated,” Jones said.

“We scored two tries to one, but we were a bad version of ourselves. So there’s a bit of soul-searching to do, but that makes the Wales game quite important.”

Before Sunday’s match, Australia had recorded 15 successive victories against Fiji. Since the start of 1985, they have faced and beaten the Fijians nine times, scoring at least 31 points in eight of those victories.

They played this match without captain Will Skelton, who was unable to recover from a calf injury before the match.

And in front of a noisy crowd in Saint-Etienne, they worked on possession of the ball, conceding 18 penalties to Fiji’s seven.

“It was a very deserved victory for Fiji,” added Jones.

“They dominated us, especially in the ruck, and in a close game like this, that’s the difference.”

The Wallabies have already lost their second group stage match twice, against Ireland in 2011 and Wales in 2019. Each time, they rallied and qualified for second place.


Australia: Donaldson; Nawaqanitawase, Petaia, Kerevi, Koroibete; Gordon, White; Bell, Porecki (captain), Slipper, Frost, Arnold, Hooper, McReight, Valetini.

Substitutes: Uelese, Schoupp, Nonggorr, Philip, Leota, Fines-Leleiwasa, Foketi, Vunivalu.

Fiji: Droase; Wainiqolo, Nayacalevu (captain), Tuisova, Radradra; Tela, Kuruvoli; Mawi, Matavesi, Tagi, Nasilasila, Cirikidaveta, Tagitagivalu, Botia, Mata.

Substitutes: Ikanivere, Ravai, Doge, Mayanavanua, Tuisue, Lomani, Botitu, Habosi.

Arbitrator: Andrew Brace (Ireland)


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