Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Fiji qualify for RWC quarter finals despite loss to Portugal

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

 Portugal celebrates historical win. Photo: World Rugby.
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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

It was scenes of joy for Portugal, as they clinched their first ever win on the Rugby World Cup stage defeating Fiji 24-23.

Coming into the match, Fiji needed just one point on the pool standings to qualify through to the playoffs.  Despite the loss, they still progressed, given it was a bonus point loss. 

Nothing could separate the two teams as the scores were levelled at half time with a penalty each. Both teams struggled to finish off try-scoring opportunities under some slippery field conditions. 

The first try of the match came in the second half through Portugal’s Raffaele Storti. Fiji immediately replied through loose forward Levani Botia.

Another try to Portugal in the 51st minute put them ahead 17:10 as they started to gain belief in claiming a historic win. 

Mesake Doge levelled up the game once again as he crossed over the line for Fiji with 12 minutes left in the match. Fiji then extended their lead by six with Frank Lomani kicking back to back penalties. 

Vinaya Habosi in action for Fiji. Photo: World Rugby.

With just three minutes left in the match, and Fiji looking likely to steal a close win, Rodrigo Mata dotted down near the posts after some mis-communication in the Fijian defence. Halfback Samuel Marquez slotted the extra two to put them ahead by one point and seal the historic win. 

Portugal Captain Jose Lima was filled with emotion as he spoke on how much the win meant for him and his team.

“I think it comes from the heart when you are tired, you have to think of all the stuff before. Get with your partners and say, let’s go. Let’s do it. 

“That’s what we said at half-time and look at this, it is unbelievable” he said. 

As for Fiji, the loss comes with some reward as they look ahead to their quarter final clash next Monday with England. 

“We’re going to have to rest and recover. England are a very good tournament team and we’re expecting a tough game. We’ll regroup, review and then get on to England.” coach Simon Raiwalui said. 

Fiji during warm up. Photo: World Rugby.

Captain Waisea Nayacalevu was quick to praise Portugal on their win.

“Congratulations to Portugal, hats off to them, they really played well today. We didn’t execute a lot of our plays, dropped a lot of balls and they took advantage of our mistakes. I salute them and congratulate them on the win.

“For us, we’ve got to go back and look at our mistakes and our work-ons. But we’ve qualified now and we have to switch our focus now on to next week.”

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