Fiji claim famous win over the Wallabies to throw Pool C wide open

Adam Kyriacou
Fiji centre Josua Tuisova diving over for a try.

Fiji centre Josua Tuisova diving over for a try.

Fiji picked up their first victory of the 2023 Rugby World Cup as they claimed the scalp of the Wallabies, winning 22-15 at Stade Geoffroy Guichard on Sunday.

The famous win throws Pool C wide open as the islanders move on to six points, level with Australia and four behind Wales with two matches still to play.

A second-half try from Josua Tuisova as well as 14 points from the boot of Simione Kuruvoli and a Frank Lomani penalty saw Fiji to a crucial pool success.

For Australia this was a sobering loss as they were well beaten on the day, with Mark Nawaqanitawase and Suliasi Vunivalu’s tries their only highlights.

Click here for scorers

This was Simon Raiwalui’s team’s first win over Australia since 1954 and it was hugely deserved as they dominated with and without the ball on Sunday.

Fiji were looking to bounce back from an agonising opening loss to Wales while the Wallabies had kicked off their Pool C campaign by seeing off Georgia.

Therefore the islanders knew it was pretty much win or bust in terms of their hopes of progressing to the knockouts, with a real drive evident early on.

Australia full-back Ben Donaldson was opportunistic early on and punished a Fiji high tackle when he converted the first opportunity of the game to give his side a 3-0 lead after three minutes.

The Pacific Islanders sought a response through scrum-half Kuruvoli, who tied the score before slotting another penalty to give his side a 6-3 lead after 20 minutes.

The first try of the game came in the 22nd minute through Nawaqanitawase. The wing chased the long ball, took a quick lineout and combined with Samu Kerevi before he received the offload to add five more to to Australia’s tally.

But the Wallabies’ hard work started to unravel through ill-discipline and they started to concede needless penalties, much to the delight of Kuruvoli who added six more and the half ended 12-8 in favour of the Fijians.

Fiji extended their lead when Carter Gordon misjudged the bounce of a high ball which invited Tuisova to storm through and make it 19-8 in the 42nd minute.

Vunivalu went over late on for Australia after Fiji scored another penalty but it was not enough and they held on to complete a memorable 22-15 victory.

The teams

Australia: 15 Ben Donaldson, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Nick Frost, 3 James Slipper, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Blake Schoupp, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Suliasi Vunivalu

Fiji: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Jiuta Wainiqolo, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu (c), 12 Josua Tuisova, 11 Semi Radradra, 10 Teti Tela, 9 Simione Kuruvoli, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Levani Botia, 6 Lekima Tagitagivalu, 5 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Luke Tagi, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Eroni Mawi
Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Mesake Doge, 19 Temo Mayanavanua, 20 Albert Tuisue, 21 Frank Lomani, 22 Vilimoni Botitu, 23 Vinaya Habosi

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

READ MORE: Clinical Springboks cruise to one-sided win over hapless Romania in Bordeaux