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Fiji ‘target’ World Cup glory after crucial win over Eddie Jones’ Wallabies

By Finn Morton
Semi Radradra and Teti Tela of Fiji sing their National Anthem prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Fiji at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on September 17, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Semi Radradra and the Flying Fijians have set their sights on Rugby World Cup glory after beating Eddie Jones’ Wallabies 22-15 in a thrilling must-win clash on Sunday evening.

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Fiji bounced back from a heartbreaking 26-18 loss to rivals Wales at Stade de Bordeaux last week to defeat Australia for the first time since 1954.

In the 23rd minute, the Wallabies took control with a slender two-point lead as wing Mark Nawaqanitawase crossed for the opening try of the Test, but it was practically all Fiji from there.

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Playing in front of a Fijian-dominated crowd in Saint-Etienne, halfback Simione Kuruvoli kicked the Pacific Island nation into a strong lead, followed by a decisive try to Josua Tuisova.

Fiji were on the brink of victory when replacement Frank Lomani converted a pivotal penalty with 15 minutes to play. Australia wing Suliasi Vunivalu scored shortly after but the Fijians held on for a famous win.

About an hour or so after the history-making victory, world-class backline utility Semi Radradra insisted that Fiji could go all the way at the World Cup.

“Yes, that’s our target. That’s a main goal to win the World Cup. Nothing’s impossible,” Radradra told reporters after the Test.

Points Flow Chart

Fiji win +7
Time in lead
11
Mins in lead
59
14%
% Of Game In Lead
73%
37%
Possession Last 10 min
63%
0
Points Last 10 min
0

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“After this big win, we have to refocus again and see what happens after next week.”

Let the history books show that October 17th, 2023, is a famous day not just in the history of Fijian Rugby or the Rugby World itself, but for the progression and growth of the international game.

Fiji beat the Wallabies for the first time in 69 years, with Australia winning 17 of the next 18 matches between the two nations – with a draw a minor blip on that otherwise flawless run.

Having played Wales and now Australia, Fiji are now on track for their first quarter-final berth since the 2007 World Cup which was also held in France.

“It’s something very special,” Radradra added. “It’s big for us as a team, for me personally as well, to win this kind of game.

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“We’re focused on another big one coming next week.”

Radradra was so nearly the hero for Fiji last when they went down swinging against an improving Welsh outfit.

With a sea of red drowning out the crowd around them, Fiji fell agonisingly short of what would’ve been a stunning comeback win. Radradra dropped the ball cold in a try-scoring position with time up on the clock.

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The Welsh players burst into a relieved state of euphoria as they held on for a tough 6-point win, while their opponents dropped their heads.

“It was really painful last week, so after that last game we had to flush it because we know we still have a lot in us.

“We want to prove this week that we still have the fight for a quarter-final position. So, congrats to the boys and the effort they showed as well  today that we can still fight.”

 

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