Fiji overcame Italy 41-26 in the World Rugby U20 Championship ninth-place semifinals at Paarl Gymnasium.
The win, their first in the tournament, ensures they avoid relegation to the World Rugby U20 Trophy next year.
Despite Italy’s possession advantage, Fiji made the most of their opportunities, scoring five tries through their running rugby style. In contrast, Italy relied on their dominant scrum to score four tries.
Fly-half Isaih Ravula played a pivotal role in Fiji’s win, contributing 16 points through conversions, penalties, and tactical kicking that denied the Italian forwards several chances.
Italy opened the scoring with tight-head prop Marcos Francesco Gallorini scoring what was also the 100th try of this year’s tournament, Fiji responded through Mastercard Player of the Match, second-row Mesake Vocevoce, with Ravula adding the conversion followed by a well-struck penalty.
Giovanni Quattrini, Italy’s captain and hooker, scored a try from a lineout drive, to regain the lead. However, Fiji remained a threat with their attacking play and managed to reclaim the lead with a well-executed move on the short side, resulting in a try by their full-back, Isikeli Basiyalo. Ravula, successfully converted the try and later created another try for Fiji. He executed a precise chip kick that was caught by wing Sireli Masiwini, who evaded a tackle and scored. Ravula converted the try putting Fiji ahead 24-12 at the breather. He extended Fiji’s lead in the second half, with a penalty.
Italy made some substitutions in their forward pack and quickly made an impact. Second-row Jacopo Botturi and replacement hooker Nicholas Gasperini both scored tries in three minutes through powerful forward play, to reduce the deficit to a point.
But missed tackles proved costly which allowed Ravula to send blindside flanker Sakenasa Nalasi over then for centre Paterisio Finau to slice through a static defence on a strike run from a lineout.
Fiji maintained composure and prevented Italy from making a successful comeback.
Fiji will play Argentina in the ninth-place play-off at 12.30 am Saturday, July 15 (Fiji Time), while Japan face Italy with the loser being relegated to next year’s U20 Trophy.
Photo Courtesy of: World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images