Fiji will not look past Portugal in quarter-final hunt
2 October, 2023, 11:48 am
BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) – Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui will not allow himself to think about a Rugby World Cup quarter-final just yet but, having seen his side roll up their sleeves and fight for a gritty 17-12 win over Georgia in Bordeaux, he knows they are almost there.
Fiji will have their knockout phase place confirmed on Sunday if Australia win without a bonus-point against Portugal in their final Pool C fixture in Saint-Etienne, but the Pacific Islanders will likely need a single point when they meet the Portuguese in Toulouse next Sunday.
That would book a first quarter-final place since 2007, confirming their progress over the last 12 months, following a first-ever win over England at Twickenham.
“I am really just worried about Portugal coming up, we have to take care of business,” a cautious Raiwalui told reporters when asked about a place in the knockout rounds.
“Prepare well and put on a performance. If we look too far beyond that we are going to slip over.”
Fiji rallied from 9-0 down at halftime to beat a stubborn Georgia and that character shown by the team was most pleasing for Raiwalui.
“No result is a miracle, you win or lose,” he said. “Georgia played well, they were very clinical in the first half, their forwards were very strong and their back three were very dangerous on the counter-attack.
“The good thing is in the past we may have chased the game too much. This team, behind the leadership of Waisea (Nayacalevu), came away with the result.”
Nayacalevu admitted the performance was below par but an improved second-half display with more composure won the day.
“We didn’t manage to do a few things, dropped balls, we put ourselves under pressure in the first half,” he said. “I told the boys, ‘We keep fighting, we keep focusing, keep on going, don’t back out’.”