Fiji clinch thrilling win over Italy

Fiji flyhalf Ben Volavola slotted a last-gasp drop goal to snatch a 22-19 win over Italy in Suva on Saturday.

Although Fiji led 19-9 early in the second half after an intercept try to Vereniki Goneva, the hosts provided Italy with an opening when No 8 Nemani Nagusa was yellow-carded for an illegal tackle.

Soon after, Italian flank Maxime Mbanda scored from a rolling maul to reduce the deficit to 19-16, while flyhalf Tommy Allan then seemed to have sealed a draw when he slotted a 77th-minute penalty.

However, in a dramatic finish, Volavola stepped up to steal the win for Fiji as he converted a drop goal after the hooter.

Fiji had started the game well after Eroni Vasiteri and Jale Vatubua dotted down in the opening stanza, but Allan kept his side in the contest with three penalties.

Yet it would be his opposite number who delivered the decisive blow late in the game.

Fiji – Tries: Eroni Vasiteri, Jale Vatubua, Vereniki Goneva. Conversions: Ben Volavola (2). Drop goal: Volavola.
Italy – Try: Maxime Mbanda. Conversion: Tommy Allan. Penalties: Allan (4).

Fiji – 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Jale Vatubua, 12 Eroni Vasiteri, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Serupepeli Vularika, 8 Nemani Nagusa, 7 Akapusi Qera (c), 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 3 Kalivati Tawake, 2 Tuapati Talemaitoga, 1 Peni Ravai.
Subs: 16 Jale Sassen, 17 Joeli Veitayaki, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Mosese Voka, 22 Nikola Matawalu, 23 Benito Masilevu.

Italy – 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Maxime Mbanda’, 6 Francesco Minto (c), 5 Dean Budd, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Subs: 16 Ornel Gega, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti.

Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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Craig Lewis