Day six at the Rugby World Cup: Fiji look to bounce back from Australia defeat

Fiji lost their opening contest against Australia.

By Press Association Published: 24 September 2019 - 7.17pm



Rugby Union

Fiji will aim for their first victory of the tournament when they take on Uruguay on Wednesday.

Here, the PA news agency looks ahead to the clash and reviews day five, which saw Samoa launch their campaign with an eventful 34-9 victory over Russia.

Fiji fliers ready to go

Fiji coach John McKee is ready to unleash his speed merchants on Uruguay as the pair go head-to-head in Pool D.

McKee is wary of the South American side’s power in the tight and at the maul, but is confident his backs will cause problems.

He told a press conference: “We are very aware of the threats they can bring to the game in those areas and we will have to be on top of our game to defend there.

“In terms of our game, we want to try to play our Fijian style and we do have good speed in the outside backs, talents that we hope to utilise.”

Officials under fire

Referee Romain Poite shows Samoa’s Rey Lee-lo (centre) a yellow card
Referee Romain Poite shows Samoa’s Rey Lee-lo (centre) a yellow card (Jae Hong/AP)

World Rugby had already expressed its disappointment with the standard of refereeing during the opening days of the tournament before Poite’s handling of the Russia v Samoa game was thrust into the spotlight.

A statement said: “Following the usual review of matches, the match officials team recognise that performances over the opening weekend were not consistently of the standards set by World Rugby and themselves,” the statement read.

“But World Rugby is confident of the highest standards of officiating moving forward.

“Elite match officials are required to make decisions in complex, high-pressure situations and there have been initial challenges with the use of technology and team communication, which have impacted decision-making.

“These are already being addressed by the team of 23 match officials to enhance consistency.

“Given this proactive approach, a strong team ethic and a superb support structure, World Rugby has every confidence in the team to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2019 delivers the highest levels of accurate, clear and consistent decision-making.”

Samoa far, so good

On the face of it, Samoa’s bonus-point win over Russia in Pool A was comfortable, but the final scoreline does not begin to tell the story of a brutal encounter.

Russia led 6-5 at the break courtesy of two Yury Kushnarev penalties, but Samoa were reduced to 13 men after centre Rey Lee-lo and hooker Motu Matu’u both received yellow cards for high tackles on Russian full-back Vasily Artemyev with referee Romain Poite initially deciding to send off Lee-lo before being talked out of it by TMO Graham Hughes.

However, second-half tries from Afaesetiti Amosa, two from Ed Fidow and one each for Lee-lo and Alapati Leiua, who had crossed before the break, completed the job with Kirill Gotovtsev’s yellow card for a high tackle on Amosa aiding their cause.

Injuries hit home nations

Wales and Scotland were both forced to make changes to their squads on Tuesday.

Wales lock Cory Hill has been struggling with a stress fracture of his fibula and has not played since February. He was released from the squad after he was unable to recover from the problem with Bradley Davies replacing him.

Wales had hoped that Hill would be available to face Australia in a Pool D showdown next Sunday, but he has run out of time.

Hill’s fellow lock Adam Beard, meanwhile, only arrived in Japan three days ago after having his appendix removed.

Scotland’s World Cup hopes have suffered a second injury blow in as many days after scrum-half Ali Price was ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.

Price suffered a foot and ankle knock in Sunday’s abject defeat to Ireland and will play no further part.

Edinburgh’s Henry Pyrgos is now flying out to Japan to join up with Gregor Townsend’s squad.

Earlier in the week, Hamish Watson’s tournament also came to an end due to a serious knee injury.

Stat attack

Samoa winger Alapati Leiua left the pitch in Kumagaya with two tries to his name, five points safely banked and the Player of the Match award.

However, he did so having set a new high for the number of yards gained in the tournament to date having carried for a total of 163 metres.

Team-mate Ed Fidow was the only man to come anywhere near him with 96 metres.

Wednesday's fixture

Pool D - Fiji v Uruguay, ITV 0615 BST