Immediate after-match analysis: Like Georgia came out to win – to beat Fiji and claim our scalp; Portugal came out with clear intent – they had the forwards to match Fiji in the set piece and the contact and tackle ball area, plus the backs to run like the wind – AND they did!
Portugal had nothing to lose!
The Flying Fijians on the other hand, came out to play like they just wanted to qualify for the RWC2023 quarter-finals – AND they did.
Fiji had everything to lose!
Funny what pressure can do to a team – in fact, from the Coaching team down, Fiji was on the back foot from the get go. It looked like we gave Portugal too much respect – we gave them the front foot, we hesitated, we didn’t play our natural game, over-kicking to these masterfully accurate kickers brought up on football.
We kept them in the game by sending Tuisova and other runners straight back into their covering forwards all game: He’s tough and made of teak, BUT Superman Tuisova isn’t.
Captain Nayacalevu needed a break, he has played every Test from 22 August in the burning sun at Churchill Park against Tonga until Portugal today plus Samoa, Japan, France, England, Wales, Australia and Georgia along the way – like Tuisova, he is NOT Superman!
Sam Matavesi, Nasilasila plus a couple of other tight five forwards and Frank Lomani must also be feeling the bumps and bruises after a tough run of games.
Compare them, with respect, against the spark and speed that their replacement brought to the game for Fiji? Iosefo Masi, Tevita Ikanivere and Matawalu at halfback picked up the pace and Fiji started to click, certainly looking more threatening with ball in hand out wide.
Not the game fans expected against rugby minnows Portugal and not the game to give fans confidence leading into a return Test against England in the RWC2023 quarter-finals, but we’ll take it.
Thanks for the effort Simon, Waisea and the boys – congratulations for making the RWC2023 quarter-finals.
Against England next weekend, throw caution to the wind, swing the ball and run them off their feet – the English players are as tired and hurting as you.
Take a page out of Fijian SAS legend Labalaba’s playbook – “Who dares wins!”