Fiji bow out of RWC over­pow­er­ing feisty Uruguay 47-15

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY FOSTER NI­U­MATA

Fiji bowed out of the Rugby World Cup by over­pow­er­ing a feisty Uruguay 47-15 in an ac­tion-packed Rugby World Cup match on Tues­day.

The Uruguayans con­trib­uted to the en­ter­tain­ment with a gutsy dis­play that not only earned them their first try in the tour­na­ment, but a sec­ond to boot.

For two win­less teams out of the run­ning for the knock­out stage in dif­fi­cult Pool A, there was no letup in de­sire, as both got what they wanted: Fiji fin­ished on a high note with seven tries af­ter in­vig­o­rat­ing defeats to Eng­land, Aus­tralia, and Wales, while Uruguay was out­gunned but not out­classed.

“It was mas­sively im­por­tant to fin­ish with a win,” Fiji coach John McKee said. “We came with high am­bi­tions, and thought we could roll over two of the big teams. It’s some con­so­la­tion.”

The shorter and smaller Uruguayans were even will­ing to nig­gle the Fi­jians in the sec­ond half. It earned out­stand­ing scrumhalf Agustin Or­maechea a sec­ond yel­low card and thus a red card, the first in the tour­na­ment. Even with a man down for the last 14 min­utes in light rain, Uruguay con­ceded only one more try, in in­jury time to winger Ne­mani Nadolo, who fi­nally found only one de­fender in his path in­stead of the usual three.

His fate was typ­i­cal of Fiji’s per­for­mance. Fiji got over the line but they were made to sweat for most of their me­ters. Nadolo fin­ished with 17 points, in­clud­ing six con­ver­sions, but one of the pre­dicted stars of the tour­na­ment was held in check for the most part.

Fiji showed off its high con­fi­dence by opt­ing for at­tack­ing li­ne­outs rather penalty shots and, in the third minute, lock Leone Nakarawa off­loaded to cen­ter Le­vani Bo­tia, who was chopped at the knees by Or­maechea and dropped the ball on the try­line. Ref­eree JP Doyle yel­low-carded Or­maechea for the illegal no-hands tackle, and gave Fiji a penalty try.

Uruguay didn’t re­act well, giv­ing away a string of penal­ties which Fiji used on set-pieces. Fiji’s scrum was over­whelm­ing, and scrumhalf Nemia Ke­na­tale scored from a break down the blind­side to make it 12-0.

When Uruguay was back to 15 men, it kicked over a long-range penalty. Up to that point all of Uruguay’s points in the tour­na­ment - 15 - were from penal­ties. It was still with­out a try, the only team in the tour­na­ment which hadn’t crossed the white line.

The Teros had to wait only two min­utes more. Or­maechea and cap­tain San­ti­ago Vi­laseca pierced Fiji on the blind­side, fly­half Alejo Du­ran made a half break, and hooker Car­los Ar­bo­leya steamed up on the in­side to an­gle in near the left post. Uruguay’s first World Cup try-scorer in 12 years was mobbed by team­mates plus the re­serves, as the crowd stood and cheered.

It meant a lot to Ar­bo­leya. He made his de­but at 19 in 2004, and was the cap­tain in 2011 be­fore an eye in­jury kept him out of the Teros for three years.

The try trans­formed them. They stole a Fiji throw-in on half­way, took a quick li­ne­out in their own half and ran it back into Fiji’s, and stole the ball from the back of Fiji’s scrum. Even af­ter Nadolo was stopped, and a Fiji pushover at­tempt was col­lapsed to con­cede a sec­ond penalty try, the Uruguayans re­mained staunch.

But Fiji is not easily caged, and Nadolo broke out from half­way with sup­port from Nakarawa, whose con­verted try earned a fair half­time lead of 26-10.

The rugby- record crowd of 30,048 in Sta­dium MK clapped both sides off, and when they re­turned.

Find­ing them­selves con­stantly mowed down, a loose pass by the Fi­jians was toed on by Uruguay wing Ro­drigo Silva, and Or­maechea ended up scor­ing the try to match his fa­ther Diego, who scored against Spain at the 1999 World Cup.

Fiji was dis­rupted un­til the fourth quar­ter, when they ground out a try for re­place­ment lock Te­vita Cavu­bati, who didn’t like how Silva tried to take the ball off him. The feisti­ness wasn’t fin­ished when Bo­tia ran the kick­off restart down the left side­line, and full­back Kini Murimuri­valu fin­ished off for a sec­ond try in two min­utes. A fra­cas af­ter that ended Doyle’s pa­tience, and he sent off Or­maechea, and gave Fiji prop Cam­pese Ma’afu his sec­ond yel­low card of the tour­na­ment.

Fiji had the last say with Nadolo’s try, and spent Uruguayans lay on the grass in his wake, but even while they were down, they were never out.

AP

Fiji’s Ben Volavola is tack­led by Uruguay’s Joaquin Prada dur­ing the Rugby World Cup match be­tween Fiji and Uruguay at sta­dium:mk, Milton Keynes, Eng­land, Tues­day, Oct. 6.

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