Fiji’s comeback victory over Georgia 17-12 at the weekend puts them on the cusp of securing a spot in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup 2023.
Georgia took an early lead, taking a 9-0 lead at the breather, but Fiji staged a comeback with skipper Waisea Nayacalevu’s 51st-minute try and Frank Lomani’s penalties to secure the win.
Levani Botia, the Mastercard Player of the Match, said: “So proud of the boys, I think we struggled in the first half. We gave away opportunities but we came back in the second half.”
Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui admitted his side had struggled against Georgia in the opening half, saying: “Congratulations to Georgia, if I am being honest we were beaten to the punch in the first half. We knew it was going to be a battle. I am just thankful we have the result.”
Nayacalevu praised his side’s fighting spirit, adding: “What a game! I’m pretty exhausted. Shout out to Georgia for a tough game today.
“I am proud of the boys, what a team effort today, we didn’t slack off, we kept fighting. I told the boys we have to keep fighting. For the record, we want to be a history-making team and that is our goal.”
A convincing win over Portugal in their final Pool C game at 7am next Monday (Oct 9 Fiji Time) should firm things up, nevertheless, the Flying Fijians have been dominant in the tournament, leading in several key areas of play.
Fiji boasts the highest average of dominant collisions per game, with 44.3. The Flying Fijians are the only team at RWC2023 with a perfect scrum success rate, standing at 100 percent.
Hooker Sam Matavesi highlighted the importance of the set-piece, stating, “People think of Fiji and they think of fast-flowing and scoring incredible tries from our own try-line but, as we’ve seen at this World Cup, to win these games, it’s set-piece first.”
Also key to Fiji’s success is the fact they average the most turnovers per game (8.3), and are all the way down in 16th for possession kicked away (45 percent) which shows that they are adept at winning the ball from their opponents – and keeping hold of it.
Photo: Luke Tagi of Fiji is tackled by Beka Gigashvili of Georgia during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Fiji and Georgia at Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux on September 30, 2023 in Bordeaux, France. (Photo by Pauline Ballet – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)