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RWC Preview: Pool D – Australia vs Fiji

In game two of RWC 2019 the two-time champions Australia take-on Fiji in Sapporo. The fixture is a rematch from RWC 2015, a time in which Australia had a stronger side than present while Fiji was weaker. Today’s Flying Fijians have the means of causing an upset and must be considered Quarter Finals contenders.

Australian Head Coach Michael Cheika has looked to replicate the winning side from the Rugby Championship triumph over New Zealand. Of the team that played in the 47-26 win in Perth fourteen players will also run out against Fiji.

The one change from the match comes at flanker wherein the 78 time capped David Pocock will start together with Michael Hooper and rookie Fijian N8 import Isi Naisarani in the back-row. For Pocock it is to be his third RWC tournament.

The side named is Australia’s strongest which underlines the threat which the Flying Fijians pose. Cheika has gone for a big forward pack with Rory Arnold and Izack Rodda in the second-row; Scott Sio, and Allan Alaalatoa as the props; and Tolu Latu at hooker.

In the backs Nic White, and Christian Leali’ifano for the halves combination. This sees Will Genia and Bernard Foley to continue to be out of favor. Samu Kerevei and James O’Connor for the centers with the back-three consisting of Fijian adult import Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge, and Kurtley Beale.

Fiji have named a team that know one another very well. Campese Ma’afu, Sam Matavesi and Peni Ravai give the Flying Fijians a solid front-row and they have world class support in the engine room from Tevita Cavubati and Leone Nakarawa.

Completing the starting forwards will be a back-row of Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Peceli Yato, and Viliame Mata. Waqaniburotu will captain the side from flanker.

In the backs Frank Lomani and Ben Volavola join forces to form the halves combination. The presence of Levani Botia at inside center promises to give Fiji some deadly attacking. He will join Stade Français’ Waisea Nayacalevu in the mid-field in a selection which sees one of the world’s best centers, Semi Radradra moving to the wing.

Playing in the back-three will be a potent trio. Kini Murimurivalu starts at the back with Radradra and Josua Tuisova named on the wings. For anybody familiar with the Top 14 the backline is nothing short of extraordinary.

Australia and Fiji have a long history of international rugby competition. The first test match was in 1952 yet Fiji did not gain independence until 1970. In total there have been 21 prior matches. The Wallabies have 18 victories, Fiji 2 and there was a draw in 1961. Fiji’s wins took place in 1952, and 1954. Australia were 55-12 and 28-13 winners over Fiji at RWCs 2007 and 2015.

Fiji goes into RWC 2019 as a very formidable team. Impressive results since RWC 2015 include wins against France, Italy, and Scotland. Australia, though, remain the favorites to win in Sapporo on Saturday by a margin of 10 points.

RR WORLD RANKINGS – During World Cup the RR Ranking Points are DOUBLED

AUS (on 84.05 points) at a Neutral venue -vs- FIJI (on 77.43 points) in a RWC match

Possible Outcome Rating Point
overtake AUS?
If AUS win by 1-15 points 0.676 84.73 76.75 No
If AUS win by more than 15 1.014 85.06 76.42 No
If result is a draw 1.324 82.73 78.75 No
If FIJI win by 1-15 points 3.324 80.73 80.75 Yes
If FIJI win by more than 15 4.986 79.06 82.42 Yes


1 Scott Sio, 2 Tolu Latu, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 4 Izack Rodda, 5 Rory Arnold, 6 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (capt), 8 Isi Naisarani, 9 Nic White, 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 11 Marika Koroibete, 12 Samu Kerevi, 13 James O’Connor, 14 Reece Hodge, 15 Kurtley Beale

Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Dane Haylett-Petty

1 Campese Ma’afu, 2 Sam Matavesi, 3 Peni Ravai, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 7 Peceli Yato, 8 Viliame Mata, 9 Frank Lomani, 10 Ben Volavola, 11 Semi Radradra, 12 Levani Botia, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 14 Josua Tuisova, 15 Kini Murimurivalu

Replacements: 16 Veremalua Vugakoto, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Mosese Voka, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Alivereti Veitokani, 23 Vereniki Goneva

Date: Saturday, September 21
Kick-Off: 1:45pm (Local), 1:45am (Rio de la Plata), 12:45am (Eastern), 9:45pm (Pacific)
Venue: Sapporo Dome, Sapporo
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Andrew Brace (Ireland)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

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