Fiji move closer to play-off berth
MATCH REPORT: Fiji fought back to beat fading Georgia 17-12 on Saturday and remain on course for the World Cup quarterfinals, pushing Australia to the brink of elimination.
Fiji scored two second-half tries as they rebounded from a nine-point half-time deficit to tighten their grip on second place in Group C, but their failure to collect a bonus point left Australia with a slight hope of avoiding a first-ever group-stage elimination.
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Georgia were eliminated. Australia and Fiji both finish the group by facing Portugal. Australia need to pick up a bonus-point win and hope Fiji lose without a point. Even Portugal could sneak in with two remarkable victories.
With a quarterfinal place beckoning, Fiji started anxiously in Bordeaux, messing up restarts, losing lineouts, giving away penalties and paying the habitual price for their high-risk passing attack and repeatedly dropping the ball.
Yet Georgia also showed nerves as they blew gilt-edged touchdown chances at each end of the half.
After two minutes, Akaki Tabutsadze spilled the ball with the try-line calling.
The wing was denied at the end of the half. After Georgia counter-attacked more than 60 metres following a double Fijian fumble, Tornike Jalagonia hurled his pass forward as he found the wide-open Tabutsadze.
Georgia did punish Fiji’s indiscipline.
Luka Matkava kicked a short penalty and long-range specialist Davit Niniashvili booted one from inside his own half and one from almost 50m to give Georgia a 9-0 half-time lead.
But Georgia had also lost hooker Tengizi Zamtaradze and lock Lasha Jaiani to injury in the first 17 minutes, leaving their replacements to play more than three-quarters of a ferocious match.
Fiji’s Semi Radradra drew a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on in the first minute of the second half.
Down a man, Fiji finally made their passes stick. Captain Waisea Nayacalevu twirled through two tackles on the wing to touch down behind his back.
Frank Lomani converted from wide and then hit the post with a penalty from right in front but squirted one through from a few yards further away after 65 minutes to put Fiji a point ahead.
Georgia’s defence began to slacken. Flank Levani Botia smashed into the Georgian line and then flipped a sublime pass to substitute Vinaya Habosi who jagged through a huge hole to score.
Lomani converted and Fiji had an eight-point lead and 11 minutes to earn a try bonus point and lock up a last-eight place
Instead, Josua Tuisova tackled high and bumped heads with Miriani Modebadze to earn a card and Matkava converted the penalty.
Fiji survived one last Georgian thrust to hold on for the victory.
Man of the match: Flyhalf Luka Matkava and wing Davit Niniashvili put in another incredible performance for Georgia, while Miriani Modebadze also deserves a mention for his contribution. However, our nod goes Fiji’s Luke Tagi. The prop was a workhorse he made several carries and on defence made all his tackles.
Tries: Nayacalevu, Habosi
Cons: Lomani 2
Pens: Matkava 2, Niniashvili 2,
Yellow cards: Semi Radradra (Fiji, 41 – deliberate knock on); Josua Tuisova (Fiji, 78 – dangerous high tackle)
Fiji: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selesitino Ravutaumada, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu (captain), 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 Samuel Matavesi, 1 Eroni Mawi
Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Samu Tawake, 19 Temo Mayanavanua, 20 Albert Tuisue, 21 Frank Lomani, 22 Vilimoni Botitu, 23 Vinaya Habosi
Georgia: 15 Miriani Modebadze, 14 Akaki Tabutsadze, 13 Demur Tapladze, 12 Giorgi Kveseladze, 11 Davit Niniashvili, 10 Luka Matkava, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Tornike Jalagonia, 7 Beka Saginadze, 6 Mikheil Gachechiladze, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Lasha Jaiani, 3 Beka Gigashvili, 2 Tengizi Zamtaradze, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili (captain)
Replacements: 16 Luka Nioradze, 17 Nika Abuladze, 18 Irakli Aptsiauri, 19 Nodar Cheishvili, 20 Luka Ivanishvili, 21 Gela Aprasidze, 22 Tedo Abzhandadze, 23 Tornike Kakhoidze
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa) & Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)