An anxious and error-prone Fiji fought back to beat a fading Georgia 17-12 on Saturday and stay on course for the World Cup quarter-finals, pushing Australia to the brink of elimination.
Fiji scored two tries in the second half as they rallied from a nine-point half-time deficit to tighten their grip on second place in Group C, but their failure to collect a bonus point leaving Australia with little hope of avoiding a first ever group. – exit the stage.
“If I’m honest we were beaten to the punch in the first half. We knew it was going to be a fight. I’m just thankful we got the result,” Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui said.
Georgia was eliminated. Australia and Fiji both finished the group by facing Portugal. Australia will have to pick up a bonus-point win and hope that Fiji are beaten without a point. Even Portugal can come in with two remarkable victories.
“What a game! I’m so tired. Shout out to Georgia for a tough game today.” said Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu.
With a quarter-final place up for grabs, Fiji began to worry in Bordeaux, messing up restarts, losing lines, giving away penalties and paying the usual price for their high-risk passing attack and repeatedly dropping the ball.
However, Georgia also showed nerves as they blew touchdown chances at each end of the half.
Two minutes later, Akaki Tabutsadze spilled the ball with a try-line calling.
The winger was denied at the end of the half. After Georgia counter-attacked more than 60 meters after a double Fijian fumble, Tornike Jalagonia threw his pass forward when he found a wide open Tabutsadze.
Georgia really punished Fiji’s indiscipline.
Luka Matkava kicked a short penalty and long-range specialist Davit Niniashvili booted one from inside his own half and another from around 50m to give Georgia a 9-0 half-time lead. -time superior.
But Georgia also lost hooker Tengizi Zamtaradze and lock Lasha Jaiani to injury in the first 17 minutes, leaving their substitutes to play more than three-quarters of a torrid game.
Fiji’s Semi Radradra received a yellow card for a deliberate knock in the first minute of the second half.
Down a man, Fiji finally stuck to their passes. Nayacalevu spun around two tackles on the wing to hit his back.
Frank Lomani converted from wide and then hit the post with a penalty from the front right but scored one from a few yards out after 65 minutes to put Fiji ahead by a point.
“It was a bit of a return to basics, we gave a lot of balls into contact. I think we were lucky to be 9-0 down at half-time,” Raiwalui said.
As the second half progressed, Georgia’s defense began to slow down. Flanker Levani Botia burst through the Georgian line and then deflected a sublime pass to substitute Vinaya Habosi who gigged through a huge hole to score.
“I think one thing about us Fijians is that we want to keep the ball alive, we rely on each other, I see my teammate and I understand that I have to give the opportunity,” said Botia.
Lomani converted and Fiji had an eight point lead with 11 minutes to go to earn a try bonus point and lock up a last eight place
However, Josua Tuisova faced high and headbutted Miriani Modebadze to earn a card and Matkava converted the penalty.
Fiji survived a last Georgian push to hold on for victory.
“It was very tight until the end,” Raiwalui said.