Fiji record first win over England at Twickenham as hosts’ dismal World Cup build-up continues

Scotland overcome tough first half to beat Georgia

England 22 Fiji 30

England’s dismal build-up to the World Cup reached its lowest ebb as they collapsed to their first defeat to a current tier-two nation by losing 30-22 to Fiji at Twickenham.

Jonny May raced over to seize an early lead but what followed will have shaken head coach Steve Borthwick as England were outplayed by a side they had dispatched in all seven previous meetings.

Waisea Nayacalevu and Vinaya Habosi touched down to propel Fiji in front and, although tries by Marcus Smith and Joe Marchant hinted that a seismic upset might be avoided, the Islanders had other ideas.


The leaky home defence cracked one final time in the 73rd minute, with Simione Kuruvoli delivering the decisive blow to wrap up a historic victory that will create shockwaves ahead of the World Cup.

Wales and Australia will be eyeing their clashes with their Pool D rivals nervously having seen what unfolded in front of a disappointing crowd of 56,854 at Twickenham.

It was England’s fifth defeat in six matches and was a dismal World Cup send-off that adds to the tension surrounding their pivotal opening game against Argentina on September 9th.

No one will have felt the disappointment more than captain Courtney Lawes, who was making his 100th appearance on a day that is expected to see England drop beneath Fiji in the global rankings.

Steve Borthwick had said the listlessness seen in previous three warm-up matches was a result of being in the midst of a conditioning block and that they would benefit when the load was reduced.

As they made the brightest start of their four warm-up games, they certainly looked like a side with fresh purpose – Manu Tuilagi making early dents, George Ford fizzing a pass to Ollie Lawrence and May supplying the determined kick-chase that had been missing in Dublin.

May quickly decorated his international comeback with a first try since November 2021 in the left corner after Alex Mitchell and Ford found the veteran Gloucester wing with sharp distribution from a scrum.

It was the first try scored by an England back in 261 minutes and it began to look like Borthwick’s team were emerging from their long spell of underachievement.

But the rest of the first-half belonged to Fiji and once their first attack had unfolded amid a downpour, Caleb Muntz landed a penalty.

The heavy rain had stopped and, while handling was still treacherous, the well-organised Islanders continued to probe for openings that almost produced a dynamic try for Nayacalevu that was ruled out for a marginal forward pass.

Under-pressure England wrestled back the ball and were only denied in the right corner by a try-saving tackle on Max Malins that took place in the moments after prop Eroni Mawi committed a yellow card breakdown offence.

With Mawi still in the sinbin, Fiji ran in their first try with a little help from weak tackles by May and Freddie Steward on Selestino Ravutaumada that enabled Nayacalevu to cross at the end of a slickly-orchestrated attack.

A brief England assault followed but once this subsided they paid the price for Ben Earl switching off around the ruck to allowed Habosi to dart clear and race over the line.

Smith touched down a Ford chip as tension mounted at Twickenham but with Muntz landing another penalty they still trailed, although there was evidence they had found a second wind.

That was confirmed when Joe Marchant capitalised on the space down the right but when Danny Care dropped the restart they were back under the cosh and the ruthless Fijians pounced through Kuruvoli to claim a famous win.

Scotland 33 Georgia 6

Duhan van der Merwe led the charge with a double as five-try Scotland overcame another half-time deficit to ensure they headed off to the World Cup on a triumphant note by beating Georgia 33-6 at Murrayfield.

For the fourth warm-up match in succession, Gregor Townsend’s side trailed at the break after a couple of penalties from stand-off Luka Matkava put the visitors 6-0 up.

But as was the case in their previous two home matches against Italy and France, the Scots got a grip of proceedings in the second half and went on to make it three wins in four summer Tests after scores from Van der Merwe, Rory Darge, Kyle Steyn and Jack Dempsey.

Georgia, who had won 11 of their previous 12 Tests, made a bright start and they gained the first points of the game in the 12th minute when Matkava kicked a penalty between the posts from 40 metres out after Grant Gilchrist failed to roll away.

The slow-starting Scots survived a scare in the 17th minute when Georgia wing Mirian Modebadze tried to get on the end of a kick through and slam down over the line but full-back Ollie Smith got back just in time to avert the danger.

The visitors continued in the ascendancy though and they doubled their advantage to six points in the 21st minute when Matkava kicked another penalty.

The 6-0 deficit seemed to inject a semblance of urgency into Scotland’s play and they started to become more of a threat as the first half wore on.

The hosts thought they had got themselves up and running in the 36th minute when Steyn – added to the starting XV on Friday after Darcy Graham was ruled out with a minor quad strain – forced his way over the line in the right corner but following a TMO review he was deemed to have lost control of the ball before placing it down.

The only first-half blemish for the dogged Georgians was the worrying sight of hooker Shalva Mamukashvili – on his 100th appearance – hobbling off before the break, just two weeks ahead of their World Cup opener against Australia in Paris.

With Scotland unable to get a point on the board, they found themselves in the now familiar position of having to mount a second-half recovery.

And that is exactly what they did. Van der Merwe began the revival with his 19th try for Scotland as he eased over on the left after being teed up perfectly by a lovely pass from the outside of Finn Russell’s boot. Russell added the extras to edge the hosts in front.

The Scots swiftly took control. Darge – who also scored in the last match away to France – forced his way over from close range in the 51st minute after Van der Merwe had been held up following a marauding run. Russell again converted in what was the talisman’s last act of the match before going off amid a raft of substitutions.

Dempsey then powered his way through a ruck of Georgian bodies to push down just left of the posts in the 59th minute, with replacement Ben Healy converting.

Steyn – who scored a double in St Etienne last time out – added his team’s fourth try of the match from close range in the 69th minute after Dempsey was denied just in front of the line. Healy again added the extras.

And Van der Merwe had the 54,000 crowd in raptures when he capped an impressive second-half display from the Scots with a straightforward touchdown on the left two minutes from the end, with Healy again on target with his kick.