Uruguay produced the first upset of the 2019 World Cup with an impressive 30-27 victory over Fiji in Kamaishi on Wednesday. DYLAN JACK reports.
It was Uruguay’s third win at a World Cup and their first-ever victory over the Pacific Islanders. The loss could all but end Fiji’s hopes of making it through to the playoffs as they would need either Wales or Australia to drop points against Georgia and Uruguay to stand a chance of progressing.
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For Uruguay, it was a thrilling start to their World Cup campaign as they took their chances superbly to go into the break 24-12 ahead. Flyhalf Felipe Berchesi importantly put in a standout display from the tee, converting all of Uruguay’s tries and kicking three second-half penalties. The 28-year-old, who plays in the French second division, became the first Uruguayan to reach 300 Test points with his tally.
Predictably, Fiji dominated possession and territory throughout the match, but were once again let down by a disorganised defensive effort. A superb Uruguayan scramble defence forced Fiji into making far too many errors when it mattered on attack.
Second-half tries from lock Api Ratuniyarawa and replacement scrumhalf Nikola Matawalu gave Fiji hope of a comeback win, but they were left with far too much to do when Berchesi slotted his third penalty. Matawalu went over for his second try after the hooter to ensure Fiji got a losing bonus point.
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Fiji – Tries: Mesulame Dolokoto, Eroni Mawi, Api Ratuniyarawa, Nikola Matawalu (2) . Conversion: Josh Matavesi.
Uruguay – Tries: Santiago Arata, Manuel Diana, Juan Manuel Cat. Conversions: Filipe Berchesi (3). Penalty: Berschesi (3).
Fiji – 15 Alivereti Veitokani, 14 Filipo Nakosi, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Jale Vatubua, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Josh Matavesi, 9 Henry Seniloli, 8 Leone Nakarawa, 7 Mosese Voka, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu (c), 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 Tevita Ratuva, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Mesulame Dolokoto, 1 Eroni Mawi.
Subs: 16 Tuvere Vugakoto, 17 Campese Ma’afu, 18 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Samuel Matavesi, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Lepani Botia.
Uruguay – 15 Gaston Mieres, 14 Nicolas Freitas, 13 Juan Manuel Cat, 12 Andres Vilaseca, 11 Rodrigo Silva, 10 Filipe Berchesi, 9 Santiago Arata, 8 Manuel Diana, 7 Santiago Civetta, 6 Juan Manuel Gaminara (c), 5 Manuel Leindekar, 4 Ignacio Dotti, 3 Diego Arbelo, 2 German Kessler, 1 Mateo Sanguinetti.
Subs: 16 Guillermo Pujadas, 17 Facundo Gattas, 18 Juan Pedro Rombys, 19 Franco Lamanna, 20 Juan Ormaechea, 21 Augustin Ormaecheea, 22 Felipe Etcheverry, 23 Thomas Inciarte.
Photo: Ken Ishii/Getty Images