Fijians take a big step towards automatic qualification for RWC 2023 with an entertaining victory over weary Georgia.
HANAZONO, 3 Oct – Fijian style overcame Georgian power to keep their hopes of automatic qualification for Rugby World Cup 2023 alive with a seven-try win over the Lelos in Hanazono.
Heavy rain and the importance of this match with regards to qualification for RWC 2023 made for a scrappy opening quarter, the main talking point of which was a difference of opinion from the assistant referees as to whether Soso Matiashvili’s penalty had been successful. One flag went up, the other stayed down and replays revealed that the ball had indeed drifted wide.
The deadlock was finally broken on 19 minutes, Ben Volavola sending a left-footed grubber towards the sideline, where Semi Radradra beat Giorgi Kveseladze to the pickup and slipped a pass to Waisera Nayacalevu who dashed in unopposed for Volovola to convert.
Nayacalevu should have doubled the Fijian lead on 28 minutes, sharing three passes with Levani Botia to beat the mesmerised Georgians, but Botia’s final pass was knocked on by his centre partner – justice of sorts as a forward pass had gone unnoticed.
Georgia showed both sides of their game in their response, a dazzling break from captain Merab Sharijadze, aided by swift offloads from his backs, taking them from their own five-metre line to the Fijian tryline. A series of more characteristic Lelos forward charges ended with second-row Giorgi Nemsadze knocking the ball on as he grounded. But Fiji had been caught offside and Kini Murunurivalu kicked their first points of the match and Georgia’s first penalty of RWC 2019 to make it 7-3 at the break.
Sharikadze left the field two minutes into the second-half with a head injury, and three minutes later Fiji extended their lead. A miss-pass from Volavola fed Murimurivalu, who slipped a back-handed offload to Radradra. The winger tore down the touchline and passed inside to scrum-half Frank Lomani, who held off two tackles to extend the lead to 12-3.
Radradra set up a third try of the afternoon, coming off his left-wing to make an arcing run across the Georgian defence, drawing the cover before slipping a pass to scorer Josua Tuisova.
Georgia reverted to type from the restart, Giorgi Kveseladze catching the Fijians napping to follow the flight of the high ball and catch. The Lelos charged forwards and Mamuka Gorgodze burrowed over, Soso Matiashvili converting to close the gap to seven.
Radradra finally claimed a try of his own on the hour, Tuisova returning the earlier favour to free the winger on the left. He had to put his foot on the gas but outruns the Georgian cover to score Fiji’s bonus-point try.
Fiji’s forwards got onto the scoresheet in the final quarter, flanker Semi Kunatani holding on to a short-range pass from Botia to five over the line before second-row Api Ratuniyarawa trotted in past a Georgian defence looking tired after their second match in four days.
Player of the Match Radradra doubled his account from 45 metres in the final five minutes, twisting out of tackle by Beka Gorgadze to ground in the corner for Fiji’s seventh and final try.
Fiji now have to see how Pool D’s remaining games pan out to see whether they can claim that third place and a ticket to France. They may yet regret that first-match defeat to Uruguay but this romp against the fancied Georgians has certainly put their World Cup back on track.
Rugby World Cup Pool D
Match #21 – FULL TIME
GEORGIA 🇬🇪 1️⃣0️⃣ vs 4️⃣5️⃣ 🇫🇯 FIJI
🇬🇪 GEORGIA – 1️⃣0️⃣
Tries: Mamuka Gorgodze (53′)
Conversions: Soso Matiashvili (55′)
Penalties : Soso Matiashvili (35′)
Drop Goals :–
🇫🇯 FIJI – 4️⃣5️⃣
Tries: Waisea Nayacalevu (19′), Frank Lomani (44′), Josua Tuisova (49′), Semi Radradra (60′,75′),Semi Kunatani (67′),Api Ratuniyarawa (70′)
Conversions: Ben Volavola (20′,62′,69′,71′,76)
Drop Goals :–
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RR WORLD RANKINGS – During World Cup the RR Ranking Points are DOUBLED
GEO (on 73.29 points) -vs- FIJI (on 72.42 points) in a RWC match
|Possible Outcome||Rating Point
|GEO win by 1-15 points||1.826||75.12||70.59||No|
|GEO win by more than 15||2.739||76.03||69.68||No|
|result is a draw||0.174||73.12||72.59||No|
|FIJI win by 1-15 points||2.174||71.12||74.59||Yes|
|FIJI win by more than 15||3.261||70.03||75.68||Yes|
1 Mikheil Nariashvili, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 3 Beka Gigashvili, 4 Giorgi Nemsadze, 5 Kote Mikautadze, 6 Giga Tkhilaishvili, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 8 Beka Gorgadze, 9 Vaso Lobzhanidze, 10 Lasha Khmaladze, 11 Sandro Todua, 12 Merab Sharikadze (capt.), 13 Davit Kacharava, 14 Giorgi Kveseladze, 15 Soso Matiashvili
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Otar Giorgadze, 20 Beka Saghinadze, 21 Gela Aprasidze, 22 Lasha Malaguradze, 23 Mirian Modebadze
1 Campese Ma’afu, 2 Sam Matavesi, 3 Manasa Saulo, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu (capt.), 7 Semi Kunatani, 8 Peceli Yato, 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 Peni Ravai, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 Jale Vatubua, 23 Josh Matavesi
Date: Thursday, October 03
Venue: Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistants: Jaco Peyper (South Africa) & Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)