Player Ratings: Fiji
OPINION: Fiji’s World Cup campaign came to a halt on Sunday against England at the Stade Velodrome, although a late surge almost brought them a dramatic victory.
After trailing 24-10 in the second-half, Simon Raiwalui’s side brought the scores level heading into the final minutes, only for an Owen Farrell drop goal and penalty to end their hopes of making the semi-finals.
Josh Raisey rates the Fijian players:
15 Ilaisa Droasese – 5
Solid at the back but needed to be more consistent. Loose kicking at times meant England were rarely put under pressure in the back field and were gifted good attacking opportunities.
14 Vinaya Habosi – 4
Made the most clean breaks for Fiji going into the match, but went off shortly after the break having made the most tackles for his side at that point. Dangerous early on and even won a breakdown penalty, but a yellow card for a head clash with Marcus Smith marred his first-half. Saved his side from a sticky situation late in the first-half after an Elliot Daly chip. Came off shortly after having the ball ripped off him by Ben Earl which would have left a sour taste in his mouth.
13 Waisea Nayacalevu (c) – 6
Had some strong moments in defence but struggled to make an impact in attack early on. Grew into the game as Fiji mounted their comeback, and alongside Radradra started to torment the English defence.
12 Josua Tuisova – 5.5
Fairly subdued for his very high standards. Had beaten the most defenders for Fiji going into the match, had the joint most breakdown turnovers and had made the second-most carries, but could not produce any impressive numbers in those departments.
11 Semi Radradra – 7.5
One of the standout performers for Fiji and showed what a world-class talent he is with strong carries, impressive footwork and varied distribution. He created opportunities and was a constant threat as Fiji fought back.
10 Vilimoni Botitu – 6
Displayed moments of brilliance with the ball in hand, but he was often isolated and lacked support. His tactical kicking game needed work. Had Fiji playing with far more fluidity than last week against Portugal and showed signs of real creativity and flamboyancy, none more so than his through-the-legs pass for the first try.
9 Frank Lomani – 4
Will go down as missing a tackle on Manu Tuilagi for England’s opening try, but it is harsh to call it ‘missed’. Ultimately will be judged on his place kicking, which was 50 percent, including one sitter missed. That prevented Fiji from staying within touching distance of England. Box kicking equally did not put his opponents under enough pressure.
1 Eroni Mawi – 5.5
Showed glimpses of his strength in the scrum but couldn’t quite get the ball in his hands as much as he would have liked in the loose. Six tackles in under 50 minutes is still a decent return for a loosehead though.
2 Tevita Ikanivere – 5
Lineout throws were inconsistent, which proved costly at times. Quiet in open play.
3 Luke Tagi – 3
Was forced from the field in the opening quarter with an injury. That came after missing three tackles though.
4 Isoa Nasilasila – 5.5
Showcased his athleticism and work rate in the loose with his break to set up Botitu’s try. Had made the second-most tackles for Fiji going into the match but was outworked by plenty of his teammates in defence. Contribution at the lineout was huge for his side though.
5 Albert Tuisue – 5.5
Tuisue’s physicality was evident with some huge hits in the middle of the field (as Maro Itoje will attest) and some strong counter-rucking, but he struggled to impose himself consistently against a strong England pack.
6 Lekima Tagitagivalu – 4.5
A quiet game statistically with not a lot to write home about in attack or defence.
7 Levani Botia – 5.5
Fiji’s defensive machine kept up his good form, topping his side’s tackle charts alongside Tuisue. Not as much of a menace at the breakdown as he was at Twickenham in August, with any success being countered by being penalised.
8 Viliame Mata – 6
Was penalised for a needless obstruction which gave England the field position to score their first try. Responded with a try of his own later in the half with a dummy that seemed to trick the entire England defence. Followed up with a huge hit on Courtney Lawes soon after to drive him into touch. Made the most carries in the pack and had a tackle count in double digits.
16 Samuel Matavesi – 6
Solid in the lineout when he came on and was busy on either side of the ball.
17 Peni Ravai – 6
Scored a powerful try to ignite Fiji’s resurgence in the second-half.
18 Mesake Doge – 4
Had a tough time at the scrum, and was pinged on multiple occasions by referee Mathieu Raynal in his 60-minute stint.
19 Meli Derenalagi – 4
Penalised in the final play of the match to seal the loss.
20 Vilive Miramira – N/A
21 Simione Kuruvoli – 5.5
His introduction to the game coincided with Fiji having their best spell of the match where they played with far more potency in attack. Improved Fiji’s kicking at goal marginally.
22 Iosefo Masi – N/A
23 Sireli Maqala – 6
Was a major attacking threat last week against Portugal, but his defensive contribution was mighty this week, making nine tackles in 35 minutes and even chipping in with a penalty at the ruck.
By Josh Raisey, @RugbyPass