HIGASHIOSAKA, OSAKA PREF. – The Flying Fijians are back.
Semi Radradra scored two tries and Levani Botia made five conversions, leading previously winless Fiji to a 45-10 rout of Georgia on Thursday in the World Cup Pool D action.
Fiji, which earned four points for a win and a bonus point for scoring four or more tries for seven points combined over three matches, climbed up to provisional second place in Pool D behind Wales (2-0, nine points). Georgia dropped to fourth.
“(The win is) very pleasing today. That was a great effort by the boys and a real arm-wrestle for the first, probably, 45 or 50 minutes. But to come home so strong and score some really good tries is very pleasing,” Fiji coach John McKee said. “It’s great to see us scoring some tries out wide and showing our talents to the world.”
The continuous rain at Hanazono Rugby Stadium made the ball and field slippery, but the Fijians showed their trademark speedy attack and passing against the fatigue-ridden Georgians, who played only four days after their previous match.
Fiji looked more refreshed after a week of rest following a 30-27 upset defeat to Uruguay on Sept. 25, and kept alive its hope of advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007.
The Fijians surged in the second half. After taking a 7-3 lead into halftime, tries by Frank Lomani and Josua Tuisova made it 17-3. The Georgians countered with a try by Mamuka Gorgodze and a conversion by Soso Matiashvili in the 56th minute, but were shut down for the rest of the match.
Semi Kunatani and Api Ratuniyarawa scored back-to-back tries in a two-minute span before Radradra, the Player of the Match, crossed the goal line for second time in the contest in the final 12 minutes to wrap up the win.
“I really enjoyed it a lot, especially to get the win. But there’s still one more game left (in the pool stage),” said Radradra, who received the award from the son of Fiji captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu. “It was a privilege, an honor, especially to receive such an award from the skipper’s son.”
Fiji faces Wales in its final pool match on Wednesday in Oita, while Georgia concludes the pool round against Australia on Oct. 11 in Shizuoka.