Fiji U20s suffered their third consecutive defeat in the World Rugby U20 Championship, losing to Ireland by 20 points in their final Pool B game last night at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
The national side showed glimpses of their attacking abilities but was no match for a determined Ireland outfit who were mourning the death of 18-year-olds Andrew O’Donnell and Max Wall over the weekend, and they wore black armbands in their 47-27 victory over Fiji.
Ireland started strong with O’Connell and Gleeson combining in the 7th minute to open the scoring. Despite the presence of two tacklers, Gleeson powered over the try line, giving Ireland an early lead of 7-0.
Fiji fought back, displaying their attacking capabilities in the 14th minute. Prop Moses McGoon crashed over the try line after an impressive buildup of 12 phases. Ravula’s successful conversion reduced Ireland’s lead to 12-7.
However, Ireland quickly reasserted their dominance. In the 21st minute, Hadden scored a straightforward try, extending Ireland’s lead to 19-7. Gleeson then got his second in the 34th minute, for Ireland’s bonus-point try. Lynch’s successful conversion further widened the gap, with Ireland leading 26-7.
Fiji managed to respond before halftime. In the 39th minute, Ravula crashed over the try line after the forwards made significant progress. Although the conversion was missed, Fiji reduced the deficit to 26-12.
Fiji started the second half with great determination, as they quickly closed the gap. In the 42nd minute, it was Murray who powered through the Irish defense after an impressive break from center Waqa Nalaga. Ravula missed the conversion, but Fiji closed in on Ireland, 26-17.
Fiji continued their resurgence in the 49th minute, capitalising on a hesitant Irish defense. Ravula with the set-up, leading to Finau diving over the try line. The conversion was off target, but Fiji had significantly narrowed the deficit, making it Ireland 26-22 Fiji.
Ireland regained their composure and responded with three tries in the next 20 minutes, via Osborne and two from McCarthy one of which came when Fiji was playing with 14 men after Masiwini was shown a yellow card for a late tackle in the 76th minute. All tries were converted, solidifying Ireland’s lead 47-22.
Despite the deficit, Fiji continued to fight until the final whistle. In the dying moments of the match, Navonovono crossed the line for a consolation try in the corner. Ralogaivau’s missed conversion.
Ireland advances to the main semi-finals. The loss was Fiji’s third consecutive defeat after losing 7-53 to England and 37-46 to Australia.
Main Pic: Peni Waqalala during the World Rugby U20 Championship 2023, Pool B match between Ireland and Fiji (Photo by World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)