Fiji pulled off a remarkable triumph, capitalizing on Australia’s disciplinary struggles, to secure their first victory against the Wallabies since 1954. This pivotal win propelled Fiji ahead of Australia in the fiercely contested Pool C.
From the outset, Fiji displayed remarkable confidence, conceding just seven penalties in contrast to Australia’s staggering 18, revealing the latter’s vulnerability in the absence of their injured captain, Will Skelton.
With the Fijian kicker Simione Kuruvoli in exceptional form, landing all five of his attempts before exiting the match, the Wallabies found it challenging to establish control. Although a timely try from the in-form Mark Nawaqanitawase and a late surge from substitute winger Suli Vunivalu briefly rekindled hope for the green and gold-clad squad, Fiji maintained a comfortable lead of 22-8, courtesy of Josua Tuisova’s early second-half try.
This outcome positions both Fiji and Australia with six points, with Fiji taking the lead due to their superior head-to-head record.
Josua Tuisova, named Mastercard Player of the Match, expressed his thoughts on the significant gap between Fiji’s victories over Australia: “I know it’s been a long time for us, Fiji, since… back in the day. It’s a historic moment for us. I want to thank the team for their relentless effort. They gave their all. At halftime, I told them to empty the tank, give everything they’ve got to win this game. We approached this match as if it were a final.”
Head coach Simon Raiwalui, emotionally overwhelmed, conveyed his pride in the team’s performance: “I’m emotionally drained at the moment. I’m immensely proud of the boys. It was an intense contest against a formidable Australian side. We’re Pacific neighbors, so we’re intimately familiar with each other. It was an outstanding match that kept us guessing until the very end.”
Fiji’s captain, Waisea Nayacalevu, revealed the team’s mindset for the game: “Today, I told the boys that today is our final. Today will determine if we advance to the quarter-finals. The mindset was ‘do or die,’ give our best, fight until the end, and let the result take care of itself.”
Australia now faces a critical match against Wales on Sunday, September 24, and Wallabies captain David Porecki acknowledged the challenge ahead: “Wales boasts world-class players in the backline, and they capitalized on opportunities around the breakdown. Credit to them. We have a quick turnaround before facing Wales in a World Cup game, and we need to regroup and prepare.”
Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones conceded the well-deserved victory to Fiji, acknowledging their superiority in key areas: “Fiji thoroughly earned this victory. They outperformed us, especially in the ruck. They executed three times more turnovers than us, and in a closely contested game like this, that made all the difference.”
Jones reflected on Australia’s performance, stating, “For some reason, we were off our game today. Despite dominating in certain aspects, including scoring two tries to one, we fell short of our usual standard. There’s some soul-searching to be done, but our upcoming match against Wales takes on added significance.