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16 Sep 2007 15:59
Fiji beat Canada 29-16 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Sunday as they sighted a return to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 1987.
The Pacific islanders moved into second place in Pool B behind Australia, piling the pressure on to Wales who they’ll meet in a winner-takes-all clash in Nantes on September 29, with the prize of a last-eight place at stake.
Australia defeated Wales 32-20 on Saturday to virtually wrap up top spot in the group.
Fiji also grabbed a crucial bonus point thanks to a last-minute try from Kameli Ratuvou after Canada had lost the ball pushing for an unlikely win themselves with the score at 22-16.
Canada, who had lost to Wales in their opener despite leading 17-9, needed to win to stay in contention for a last-eight place, a stage they haven’t reached since 1991.
Fiji, for their part, had collected a bonus point in their 35-31 win over Japan.
Canada’s James Pritchard and Fijian flyhalf Nicky Little, the nephew of former All Black centre Walter Little, exchanged early penalties before Fiji stepped up the pressure with their trademark running game.
Fullback Kameli Ratuvou sped away to the tryline only to be held up by a fine tackle from Canada skipper Morgan Williams.
But in the 21st minute, Fiji grabbed the opening try.
Scrumhalf and captain Mosese Raulini fed winger Vilimoni Delasau who released lock forward Kele Leawere for his second try of the tournament.
Little, his country’s top points scorer and most-capped player, added the conversion for 10-3 before Pritchard cut the deficit with a penalty.
It was a brief respite as Fiji were soon back on the attack.
Ratuvou fed Sisa Koyamaibole, whose pass to Rauluni found its way back to Ratuvou, who used his body strength to score his team’s second try and make the score 15-6, but Little missed the conversion.
Delasau scored Fiji’s third try in the second minute of the second half after bursting through four defenders with Little’s conversion giving his side a 22-6 lead.
Canada’s stronger forwards laid siege to the Fiji line and got their reward when they laid the platform for flyhalf Ryan Smith to burst through for a try with Pritchard adding the conversion to make the scoreline 22-13.
The Canucks were convinced they had scored again in the 70th minute but Mike Pyke’s touchdown was ruled out for a double movement as he grounded the ball.
As Fiji continued to tire, Pritchard kicked a penalty to make the score 22-16
Canada then lost the ball on the Fiji line in the last minute to allow Ratuvou to sprint virtually the length of the pitch to score his team’s fourth try.—AFP
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