Fiji avoids a mega shock to come back and beat Georgia 17-12 at the Rugby World Cup

Fiji avoids a mega shock to come back and beat Georgia 17-12 at the Rugby World Cup

BORDEAUX, France (AP) — Fiji just avoided the kind of mega shock it is more used to dishing out at the Rugby World Cup.

The Flying Fijians were constrained by a fully committed outsider in Georgia for 50 minutes before coming back from 9-0 down to win 17-12 in their Pool C game on Saturday.

The fighting victory put Fiji on the cusp of making the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007, but not quite there yet and the deal will have to be sealed in a final pool game against another underdog in Portugal.


Georgia’s Akaki Tabutsadze scores a try during the Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Fiji and Georgia at the Stade de Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

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

Captain Waisea Nayacalevu began the Fijian fightback with a 51st-minute try deftly finished with inches to spare in the left corner as he dotted down off his feet and almost behind his back before he was tackled into touch. Replacement Vinaya Habosi finally subdued the Georgians when he ran onto an offload from tireless flanker Levani Botia with 12 minutes to go to make it 17-9 with the conversion.

Yet Georgia still had enough in the tank to kick a very late penalty and chase what would have been a scintillating victory right at the death, when replacement Gela Aprasidze’s breakout and kick ahead was desperately snuffed out by Fiji fullback Ilaisa Droasese. Droasese chased back, scrappily hoofed the ball over the dead ball line and collapsed in exhaustion, as did pretty much everyone else on the field.

It was a full-blooded and at times chaotic match that the fans in Bordeaux lapped up. It was also played in a brilliant World Cup spirit, and Fijians and Georgians pulled each other up, shook hands and fell into tired hugs at the end.

“I am proud of the team,” Georgia captain Mikheil Nariashvili said. “Unfortunately it wasn’t

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