Ireland made to work hard for win over 14-man Fiji
MATCH REPORT: Nick Timoney scored two tries as Andy Farrell’s fresh-faced Ireland beat a defiant Fiji 35-17 at the Aviva Stadium.
Timoney’s double and a try from Robert Baloucoune put Ireland ahead following Kalaveti Ravouvou’s opener.
After half-time, Albert Tuisue was sent off for a dangerous tackle, with Mack Hansen scoring shortly after.
Fiji showed real heart to stay in the game, getting on the scoresheet through Simione Kuruvoli, but Cian Healy’s ninth international try quashed hopes of a late comeback.
Fiji start strong
Fiji started quickly against Scotland last week and they did again here. Eroni Mawi gave Teti Tela a chance to kick the visitors into an early lead after winning a penalty at the breakdown, but the fly-half could not convert from in front of the posts.
However, straight from the restart, the Flying Fijians worked the ball out wide to Vinaya Habosi, who used his pace to beat Jamison Gibson-Park before offloading to Waisea Nayacalevu.
Nayacalevu found his centre partner Ravouvou, who touched down under the posts to give Vern Cotter’s side an early lead.
Ireland had plenty of possession after the opening try but the visitors defended aggressively and did not give their opponents any easy metres.
And when they did regain possession, full-back Setareki Tuicuvu produced one of the offloads of the Autumn Nations Series to put Habosi into space again.
The wing beat two defenders but was eventually brought down by Jimmy O’Brien.
Timoney got Ireland back on level terms with his second try in international rugby, powering over with a pick-and-go from five metres out.
Ireland were back in the Fijian 22 shortly after and they thought they had scored again when Kieran Treadwell crossed the whitewash, but Levani Botia held the ball up.
Manasa Saulo was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements after play had been pulled back for an Ireland penalty.
The hosts kicked that penalty into the corner, and Timoney scored his second of the afternoon from the back of Ireland’s driving maul.
Fiji then won a penalty of their own after Treadwell was judged to have chased the ball after starting in front of the kicker, and Tela avenged his earlier miss to reduce the deficit to four points.
Ireland bounced back though, with Baloucoune crossing the whitewash for his second try in three appearances for Ireland after a pinpoint pass from Gibson-Park.
Jack Conan went over the line with five minutes left of the half but his feet were both in touch as he grounded the ball, and the try did not stand.
Ireland pushed for a fourth, carrying the ball up to the Fijian line once again but the visitors defended resolutely and made it to half-time 21-10 behind.
Discipline the difference
After the break, Tuisue was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on Joey Carbery, and Fiji went down to 13 after Apisalome Ratuniyarawa was shown a yellow card for collapsing Ireland’s driving maul.
It took Farrell’s team 10 minutes to take advantage, but Hansen eventually went over in the corner for his side’s fourth try.
But Fiji refused to give up, scoring another stunning try after sublime offloads from Nayacalevu and Jiuta Wainiqolo put Kuruvoli away.
With six minutes remaining, substitute Healy crossed the whitewash from inside two metres to wrap up the win.
Tries: Timoney 2, Baloucoune, Hansen, Healy
Cons: Carbery 3, Crowley 2
Tries: Ravouvou, Kuruvoli
Cons: Tela, Volavola
Ireland: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Jamison Gibson Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Caelan Doris, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Tadhg Furlong (captain), 2 Rob Herring, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Cian Prendergast, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Garry Ringrose.
Fiji: 15 Setareki Tuicuvu, 14 Jiuta Wainiqolo, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Kalaveti Ravouvou, 11 Vinaya Habosi, 10 Teti Tela, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Levani Botia, 6 Albert Tuisue, 5 Ratu Leone Rotuisolia, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Eroni Mawi.
Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Livai Natave, 18 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 19 Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 20 John Dyer, 21 Simione Kuruvoli, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Adrea Cocagi.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini (France), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Chris Hart (New Zealand)