England 30-24 Fiji: Rugby World Cup 2023 – live reaction | Rugby World Cup 2023
And now it’s Steve Borthwick’s time to speak:
Immense credit to the players. I’d like to say, what a performance by Fiji. Not just tonight but over the tournament. Well coached and jam-packed with world class talent.
I think for large parts of the game we controlled it. Fiji scored back-to-back tries, which they can do better than anyone else in the world. We needed to find a way to put points on the scoreboard and that’s what we did.
We’ll watch [South Africa v France] with interest. This team was written off. We had no chance of getting out of the pool. Now we have a chance in a semi-final in Paris. And I’m sure we’ll be written off again. But these players rise to the occasion.
The pitch-side chats keep coming. It’s time to hear from Fiji’s coach, Simon Raiwalui:
I’m a bit speechless at the moment but couldn’t be prouder of the boys. We’ve worked so hard. We showed where we belong on the world stage. The whole team, the staff, yeah, it’s a bit of emotional at the moment.
This is a different Fiji team and it’s the start of something special. I couldn’t be prouder of the group.
This World Cup has been unbelievable for the support of the game, the global game, not just the top tier. It just shows the game is in a healthy state and we need to capitalise on that moving forward.
I thought especially in the first half it was a controlled performance. But there is plenty we can do better. But you see the power of the Fijian team. They were a man down but it was a tough, tough battle.
People talk about the changes, about people being in the starting team. It’s just a role change. Everyone from one to 33 has a massive role to play and that will continue.
This stadium is an awesome place to play and this crowd has been behind us.
Nayacalevu was fuming after the game. That final call from Raynal wasn’t well received. And when the ref tried to explain himself, Fiji’s skipper wouldn’t hear it.
Now for Fiji’s heroic skipper, Waisea Nayacalevu:
I’m not a perfect man. But I try to be. I want to say that I’m proud of the team effort. We know we fell short. The team, the coaching staff, the management, what a proud moment for us to be here. I want to thank our supporters. Here in the stands and back home. It’s not easy for us. We keep fighting, fighting to the end. I want to thank you for supporting us, for guiding us and praying for us.
I told the boys to keep to our basics. To keep the ball and we;’d get an opportunity at the end. Unfortunately a few calls didn’t go our way but that’s rugby. We’ve been together a long time. There are a lot of emotions. I’m so proud of this team.
Here’s the player of the match, Owen Farrell:
They’re a tough, tough team who can turn it on the blink of an eye. I thought we started the game really well. We always knew Fiji would have some good patches and they certainly did. To get through the semi-finals is a big step forward. We know we’ve got plenty of work to do.
[Thoughts about the drop goal]. Just to get points. The forwards did great work for us. I just wanted to get it over.
It wasn’t pretty, but they won’t care. England are through the semi-finals of a World Cup!
England have won it! Lawes gets down and wins the turnover penalty! England’s defence wins it! Fiji can’t believe it. But England have won and on balance they deserve it.
80+6 mins: It’s not a good kick from the penalty. Still, Fiji win the line-out and launch an attack. England swarm on defence and go searching for the ball..
80+5 mins: Farrell is claiming that it was a tackle but no chance. It’s 100% a deliberate knock-on. But only a penalty. No card. Fiji kick over the half-way line and will get a line-out.
Yes, I think that’ll be ruled a deliberate knock-on. Both teams hold their breath. It’s that man Farrell.
80+3 mins: Still Fiji have it, but they’re now back in their own half. Outstanding defence from England after 15 phases. The ball is spilled but is it off an England hand? They’ll ask the TMO.
80+2 mins: They have it still. Derenalagi into the maw. Botia out the back. Radradra can;t find space. England have shoved them back almost to the halfway line.
80+1 mins: Out the back it goes. Short passes. Punching holes but being repelled around the fringe. Five phases. Six. Nayacalevu carries. Now they go wide to the left.
80 mins: It goes down again and Fiji have the feed again. This is tense!
79 mins: Correction. About 25 metres out. Fiji ball. Space on the blind. It wheels. It goes down. Oooh. Fiji will have it again.
79 mins: Knock-on England. Scrum to Fiji 35 metres out. Do or die now.
Fiji need a converted try to win this after the veteran 10 slots the penalty.
76 mins: Fiji off the top of the line-out and down the line. England have it. How do Fiji keep losing it?! Early with a monstrous carry. He keeps going. 10m. 20m. 30m! England have a penalty as Fiji swarm back and Farrell will have an easy kick. That all came from a reckless off-load in the tackle from Fiji. But credit to Earl. He is having a stonking tournament.
75 mins: It’s not clean but Care, on the pitch for Mitchell, boxes and gets it out of touch.
74 mins: The scrum wheels and collapses. I thought Fiji did enough to win the penalty but it’ll be re-set.
73 mins: England steal a line-out inside their own 22. Another sacked maul. Why do Fiji keep running that play? It’s Lawes being a nuisance. What a massive moment. England with the scrum.
Cometh the hour… What is it with England 10s and clutch drops? With nothing on, Farrell drops into the pocket and drops a goal.
70 mins: Into the final 10 minute and Lawes carries well and then Earl makes about 10 metres. Tuilagi goes alone when feeding May might have been wiser. Fiji back on their own line. England can sniff the whitewash. Smith has space but is snaffled just as he was finding space. Itoje charges..
Game on! A dream off-load from radradra after an immense charge into contact frees up Nasilasila who then feeds Botitu running a superb support line. He brushes himself off and slots the conversion to tie the game. They were 14 points adrift a moment ago. Now they’re all square.
67 mins: Oh Kuruvoli misses a penalty (just after my screen froze and clicked back on). But it hits the post so Fiji have the ball and are attacking inside England’s 22. Can they do it?
YES! They’re over! A team try. Monster runs from Nayacelevu and Radradra from midfield punched holes until it opened up for the veteran prop. He bulldozed over from short range and with Kuruvoli converting, it’s a seven point game.
64 mins: A busting charge from Fiji’s captain Nayacalevu gets the crowd going. Radradra has it as well and soon Fiji have the advantage. Both aforementioned men are involved and is this a chance?
62 mins: Now England cough up a soft penalty. The new man Sinkler gets himself in the wrong position after an attacking line-out. So Fiji hoof it up and will throw-in themselves. They need to score right now.
62 mins: All England now as Marler comes on and immediately wins a scrum penalty. They’re getting the basics right and coming out on top.
61 mins: Oh Fiji. You’re not going to turn this around like that. They’re too frenetic and impatient. Rather than build slowly they try to keep it moving fast and there’s a knock-on at the back of a ruck around the 22 line. So disappointing. Not if you’re English, mind.
60 mins: It’ll be a Fiji penalty. Curry is pinged for being on the wrong side. He’s cleared out by Botia but doesn’t like the treatment and the two warriors square off. Botia shaped to throw a punch but realised he’d be better off with a shove. They eventually make peace and Fiji get it going with a line-out just outside England’s 22.
60 mins: Farrell misses the penalty and Nayacalevu rampages up field as he holds the ball with one hand. Oh, they’re scrapping! Was that a punch from a Fijian?
58 mins: Ah that’s so unlucky. Fiji give away a penalty for obstruction. It came off the back of some slick play with Radradra heavily involved down the line. A hopeful ball down the line disrupted everyone’s running lines and that took May out before he could make the tackle. It was accidental, but I think it was the right call. Farrell calls for the kicking tee.
57 mins: Swing Low rings out. The English fans can sense a victory. Smith does well in the back field and keeps possession for England under pressure. Mitchell launches another box with boots touching his own 22. Fiji are being kept at arm’s length.
55 mins: Fiji once again can’t keep hold of the ball. England come away with it as Mitchell sends it down the line where it finds its way to May. Farrell hoists a high kick. This is reminding me of Leicester under Borthwick and that is a brand of rugby that wins matches. Fiji are crashing against immovable white rocks. Fiji will get things underway again with a line-out in their own half. England sack the maul so Fiji must find another way.
Fiji stray offside in their own 22. Ah man, this getting messy real quick. They just can’t match England’s accuracy. Smith was hammered in the tackle but only because the flying Fijian was too quick off the line. Rather than go to the corner, Farrell extends the lead to 14.
52 mins: Itoje steals the ball from a Fijian maul. The Earl scoops a low ball to keep it alive. Genge steps and rumbles over the gainline. England’s big names are coming to the party. Fiji get it back but England will have the line-out inside Fiji’s 22 after May’s clean tackle bundled out Droasese into touch.
50 mins: Great work from the scrum for Fiji as they launch an attack through midfield with a big carry from their skipper, Nayacalevu. But they spill it. England’s defence just about holds. Genge then rumbles up with a strong carry of his own and that provides the space to clear to half-way. This one’s quickly morphing into attack versus defence with the defenders winning.
48 mins: Smith launches a kick straight out inside his own half so Fiji can set an attack from a line-out. Radradra is in space on the left wing. They’re through England’s rush defence after a swift ball from Magala on the wraparound. A pop pass from the ground keeps it alive and they’ll keep the ball with a scrum feed after an England knock-on.
47 mins: That’s an ugly, scrambled kick from Fiji in their own half. England back on their ball. A good pass from Farrell finds Daly in the tram. Phew, he plays that ball well. Farrell then sends a high kick and tests Radradra. The Fijian wing does well under pressure and the men in black and red can set themselves inside their own half on the left. They need to get back the other way, stat!
45 mins: Fiji come away with the ball! Fantastic maul defence. The maul fractures and the ball carrier is wrapped up. Farrell loses his cool and screams at the referee. The free-kick is turned into a penalty. Might be a turning point for Fiji after that psychological win.
44 mins: Radradra fields a high ball and is tackled by Farrell. A bit of kick tennis follows and Radradra has to clean up again. More kick tennis and England finally emerge with it. They’re building down the blind so Botia feels compelled to pinch the ball. He overcommits and gives away a penalty. Its in Farrell’s range but he chooses to kick into touch. England will maul this up.
42 mins: Fiji have the line-out and maul it up but it’s ripped away by England. Farrell I think with that important play. Mitchell kicks high and too long, that’s his first misdirected box of the match.
41 mins: Fiji have the ball and Lomani hoofs a high box kick. It’s far too long and England field easily. That’s been a big difference between the two sides. Mitchell’s box kicks have been on a dime.
They’re back out. 40 minutes to go. Fiji with a huge task on their hands. Can they do it?
England have looked like a team filled with players who have knockout experience. Premiership winners and Champions Cup winners and a couple with World Cup knockout wins.
Fiji have been a touch naive. Three attacking penalties given away with two in their own half tells a story. But they have to keep attacking now given the deficit. England just need to hold them back.
Oh! This he ball is over Fiji’s line! It’s from a dink over the top and the top from the tram off Daly’s boot. It’s mopped up. Not sure Daly had to kick it. England had good go-forward from the line-out. Still, that’s a pretty healthy advantage in a quarterfinal at half-time.
39 mins: An English fumble at the restart gives Fiji the scrum feed inside the 22. They get a good shove on but it’s messy for Lomani at the back. Habosi carries but Itoje puts a huge hit in. Earl gets over the ball and wins a penalty. England’s fetchers have bossed their area of the pitch.
England are fading over the horizon. They’ve been clinical. Fiji have not. The scoreline is a fair reflection of how things have gone.
36 mins: Fiji once again look to run from their own half and England pick them off. Radradra collects a long pass that feels pointless even before he catches it. England get over the ball and win a penalty. Farrell with another shot from the right.
35 mins: Mitchell kicks a great touch finder. He’s been fantastic, hasn’t he? Having another great game. He hoists another high kick that’s well contested but it’s knocked-on by and England hand. Scrum for Fiji on their own patch.
Simple as. England stretch their lead with a clean strike of the ball from right of the poles.
31 mins: Now England’s chance to roar. They get the ball back holding up the maul. Fiji a little naive there. They’d have been better served getting the ball out of the line-out and clearing it away. Now they must defend a scrum in the own half. Now they’ve given away a scrum penalty in their own half. Feels like one step forward, two steps backwards for the Fijians. Farrell to line up the shot.
30 mins: End to end. England attack now off another slick line-out. Itoje is clattered in the tackle and then Lawes is driven out of touch. Fiji have upped their mongrel and a huge roar is delivered from the crowd! What thrilling stuff. Three men bashed Lawes. Fiji with the ball now.