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Fiji player ratings vs Wales | Autumn Nations Series

By Chris Jones
PA

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Fiji player ratings: One warm-up game against Spain, their regular coaching team 11,000 miles away and having to play with 14 men from the 24th minute and a total of 20 minutes with 13 players. Those were the odds stacked against Fiji but they pushed Wales all the way and showed why they are going to be a force at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. They were also missing key players in the backs and while discipline remains a real problem, the Flying Fijians will take great heart from this match.

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Acting head coach Gareth Baber and his management worked wonders to shore up the dodgy line out and Rory Best’s work paid real dividends while captain Waisea Nayacalevu was the outstanding player on either side and his two tries were reward for one of the great performances by a centre at the Principality Stadium. Wing Eroni Sau will forever regret his swinging arm that earned a red card and who knows what the result would have been if he had not had a moment of madness.

FIJI PLAYER RATINGS:
15. Setareki Tuicuvu – 7
Ran the ball back well and caught Wales asleep with his quick tap and go that led to Nayacalevu’s second try. His height could be a problem against teams with a better kick and chase game.- 7

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14. Josua Tuisova – 6
The bus won an early turnover and delivered one of his trademark thumping tackles but he was on occasionally used in attack as Fiji suffered from a lack of numbers at key moments. – 6

13: Waisea Nayacalevu – 9
Almost a faultless performance from the captain who led by example and filled the massive hole created by the injury hit Semi Radradra. Two tries and showreel of big defensive hits to show the family.

12. Vilimoni Botitu – 5
How do you impress when the bloke outside you is playing so well? Botitu had a couple of moments in attack but is not the force Fiji need in the mid-field and he will be a back up at the world cup.

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11. Eroni Sau – 3
No need for the swinging arm after he had put in the tackle on the Welsh player on the ground. This kind of ill-discipline has been a problem for the Islands nations and he let his country and the team down.

10. Ben Volavola – 7
Great short pass for the first try but kicked possession away late in the game when Fiji had to keep it in hand. Beaten to the ball by Rees-Zammit for the wing’s try. Kicked well off the tee and lasted the course.

9. Frank Lomani – 6
Was busy and effective and produced one marvellous catch to keep a penalty kick to touch by Biggar in play. Only one up and under failed to work and thankfully kept passing after that.

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1. Peni Ravai – 6
Helped dispel the view that Fiji are weak at the scrum and also put in a shift at the ruck. Like the rest of the Fiji pack he was found wanting when it came to maul time but more plusses than minuses.

2. Sam Matavesi – 7
Stole the ball at the breakdown and was a pain in neck for Wales throughout. Missed with three line out throws but the overall performance was a positive one from one of the guys Fiji can build the pack around.

3. Mesake Doge – 6
Enjoyed proving he can take on a Tier 1 scrum with a straight back and plenty of leg power. Also found the Welsh maul a real problem but has the physical power to be the cornerstone of the scrum.

4. Api Ratuniyarawa – 8
Northampton fans will be asking why he doesn’t play like this for them every week? Line out ball won, tackles put in and was a focal point for the best of Fijian forward play.

5. Temo Mayanavanua – 5
Not as effective as his second row mate and needs to turn himself into a ball carrier to take the pressure off his fellow big men. Could offer so much more with his attributes.

6. Albert Tuisue – 6
A yellow card meant his influence was affected. Powerful in the tackle and secure under the restarts, the London Irish No8 handled a different position with some success before tiring.

7. Mesulame Kunavula – 5
How can a player this big be anonymous at key times? An open side flanker he is not and Fiji need to put this proven sevens star into a role that brings the best out of him.

8. Vilimae Mata – 8
Welcome back Bill! Hailed as the best in Europe a few years ago, Mata showed he is now fully fit and has to be int the team. Missed the Welsh scrum half who scored a try but we will forgive him – 8

Reserves: Plenty of commitment from the bench although their contribution was undermined by Mawi’s yellow card that came at a critical period and left Fiji with too much to do.

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