Australia 8 – Fiji 62
Fiji saved there best until last as they bade farewell to US Portsmouth and now move to the Twickenham Stoop for an IDRC semi final match against France. They travel on the back of a resounding victory over an Australian Warriors team that gave everything to the cause but could not contain the free running RFMF side as they repeatedly counter attacked with pace and panache.
For long periods of this match it was Australia who controlled the ball and took the game to Fiji. With inventive angles and good footwork they, on numerous occasions, were able to slice through the first up Fiji defence. But, as they had shown in the Pool matches, Fiji are playing committed and determined rugby. With pace through out the side their scramble defence was always on hand to retrieve the situation and as soon as Australia lacked players at the breakdown they counter rucked ferociously and in numbers. The game settled in to a predictable but, for Australia, cruel tempo. A period of sustained pressure from Australia would get them to within 15metres of the Fiji line and then either at the breakdown or though a thunderous mid field tackle Fiji would force the turnover and unleash their devastating counter attacking skills. In wingers Sevuloni Lutu and Levani Kurumudu they had by far the quickest two players on the pitch and if they were not tearing up the dirt down the touch lines then Fiji’s big power runners in the pack; Daveta Koroitakali, Manoa Tamaya, Ameniasi Nava and captain Jolame Bera would punch huge holes down the centre.
Each counter attack seemed to record another try on the score board. Scrum half Seru sniped up the centre, sucked in the defence and the ball when wide for Levani to get the first. Sevuloni was on hand for the second after a precise cross field kick from fly half Joseva Basudra before industrious hooker, Isireli Ledua, was driven over from short range after a 90m attack was held up by heroic Australian defence 5m short. By half time Ledua had added a second whilst flanker Tamaya had finished off an end to end sweeping move that seemed to involve the whole of the Fiji team. With fullback Tikilaci Vuibau kicking well they reached the break 29-3 up and Australia’s having opened the scoring with a Matt Nixon penalty desperately needed to regroup during the interval.
Australia did alter their tactics in the second half and had some success with some committed and full on driving play where Logan Chin regularly brought his power runners on to the ball with a number of well timed pop passes. A try for industrious lock forward Josh Friend was the least they deserved but with centre Aria Josaia having already scored for Fiji it merely returned the match to its half time status quo. The try clearly lifted Australia and they redoubled their efforts. But as they played themselves to a stand still Fiji absorbed their best shots and then pounced on the first opportunity to break free. Lutu added his second of the evening followed by the diminutive Nemani Koroitamana before Jaoji Dakovulia brought up the fifty. It was fitting that Sevuloni Lutu scored the final try and brought up his personal hat trick as Fiji ran out 62-8 winners.
Australia could be proud of the way they played the game and they contributed hugely to the highly physical encounter which saw three Fiji players spend time in the sin bin for dangerous tackles, and there could have been more. It could yet be the one Achilles heel in this impressive Fiji team because they clearly upped the intensity now that the competition has reached the knock out stages but did seem to lose a little control.
They will now meet France in the semi final, who were 29-13 victors over the RAF at Halton. The French management were keen spectators in the crowd and having already defeated the British Army in the pool stages will no doubt be plotting a game plan to thwart the Fiji team. However, on this showing it will take something special to knock Fiji from their competition favourites perch.
Jason Moylan, Tim Wikaira, Jarred Playford, Aaron London, Josh Friend, Luke Miles (C), Siaka King, Alex Brown, Matt Nixon, Damien House, Arthur Iconomou, Jeremy Nelson, Josh Gray, Jackson Pearson, Daryl Seden
Replacements: Shaun Connolly, Pai Matalau, Will Solway, Aidan Kwast, Robbie Harlow, Blake Hart, Logan Chin, Zac Studders
Vesi Rarawa, Isireli Ledua, Benijamini Makutu, Save Tabakanalagi, Daveta Koroitakali, Manoa Tamaya, Ameniasi Nava, Jolame Bera (C), Seru Cavilati, Joseva Basudra, Levani Kurumudu, Vilive Aria, Josaia Lotawa, Sevuloni Lutu, Tikilaci Vuibau
Replacements: Manasia Tuidraki, Banuve Dretiverata, Kalivati Tawake, Watisoni Radinikuva, Jiuta Takubu, Nemani Koroitamana, Sanaila Vitau, Jaoji Dakovulia
Referee: Ian Bibey (RAFRUS) Ass Refereees Matt Duncan (ARURS) Adam Palmer (New Zealand)