Rugby World CupMatch Report

Fiji dig deep to beat Georgia and close in on Rugby World Cup quarter-finals

Georgia were 9-0 up at halftime, but their lack of strength in depth cost them dearly

Fiji 17 Georgia 12

Waisea Nayacalevu and Vinaya Habosi scored second-half tries to steer Fiji to a gritty 17-12 victory over Georgia in World Cup Pool C on Saturday, taking the Pacific Islanders a step closer to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007.

It was a poor game in Bordeaux between a Fijian side who made countless basic errors and a Georgian team who defended bravely but offered little in attack.

Fiji got the job done, however, as they moved to 10 points, four behind leaders Wales but four ahead of Australia with a game against Portugal to come in Toulouse on October 8th in which they need one point to make sure of a knockout place.

It is the end of the road for Georgia, who have two defeats and a draw and will be playing for pride in their final fixture against Wales.


Australia remain mathematically in the hunt to advance, but their faint hopes have diminished further and a first ever pool stage exit looms for Eddie Jones’s side.

Fiji always play on the edge in terms of their attack, throwing the ball around with little structure, but what they needed against Georgia was to simplify their play. When they did that in the second period, it paid handsome dividends.

“If I am being honest, we were beaten to the punch in the first half. We knew it was going to be a battle. I am just thankful we have the result,” Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui said.

“It was a bit of getting back to basics, we were giving too much ball away in contact. I think we were lucky to (only) be down 9-0 at halftime. It was real tight to the end.”

Georgia camped in the Fiji half in the opening 10 minutes and were rewarded with a penalty by outhalf Luka Matkava. When long-range specialist Davit Niniashvili added two more, they led 9-0 at the interval.

The Pacific Islanders made a poor start to the second half when winger Semi Radradra received a yellow card for a deliberate knock-down, but after weathering more Georgia pressure, they scored the first try.

It was a superb effort as winger Nayacalevu twisted his body as he was tackled by two defenders and dotted down in the corner before being dragged into touch.

Replacement scrumhalf Frank Lomani scuffed a penalty chance that crept over the crossbar to give Fiji the lead for the first time before they made victory safe with a second try.

Habosi, sacked by Super Rugby side Fijian Drua in February for an undisclosed breach of the team’s code of conduct, ghosted through a gap in the defence to dot down.

Fiji centre Josua Tuisova was given a bunker review yellow card late on for an upright tackle that resulted in a clash of heads with Georgia fullback Mirian Modebadze.

“Our performance was not quite enough and we also had a couple of young, inexperienced players on the bench,” Georgia coach Levan Maisashvili said.

“They worked hard and gave everything but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to win. The next job is to prepare for the Welsh.”