Sorry I didn’t report in yesterdays games but I was simply too tired to get up for a relatively unimportant game. I then didn’t get up in time for the full Aus vs PNG game either, and a very small part of me just wanted to make sure that Australia didn’t blow it against PNG… Anyway, that’s all over and it’s knockout time, so let’s look at today’s teams:
Ireland: Michael Platt, Damien Blanch, Sean Gleeson, Stuart Littler, Pat Richards, Scott Grix, Liam Finn, Eamon O’Carroll, Bob Beswick, Gareth Haggerty, Ben Harrison, Lee Doran, Simon Finnegan
Interchange: Michael McIlorum, Karl Fitzpatick, Ged Corcoran, Ryan Tandy
Fiji: Jarryd Hayne, Semi Tadulala, Wes Naiquama, Daryl Millard, Akuila Utae, Alipate Noilea, Aarom Groom, Osea Sadrau, Waisale Sukanaveita, Ilisoni Vonomatieratu, Ashton Sims, Sevania Koroi, Jason Bukuya
Interchange: James Storer, Nick Bradley-Qualilawa, Semisi Tora, Kalivoa Nauqe
IRELAND 10 – 18 FIJI
0 mins: Fiji kick off, Ireland just take a series of hit-ups and then kick to Jarryd Hayne and swarm him.
1 mins: TRY Wes Naiquama CONVERSION Wes Naiquama
Well, that was odd. Aaron Groom’s kick is charged down by Simon Finnegan, but Fiji recover the ball out wide and spread it out wide to Wes Naiquama who powers his way to the line. He converts the easy kick himself, and FIji have taken advantage of fortuitous circumstances right from the off.
IRE 0 – 6 FIJI
7 mins: TRY Damien Blanch CONVERSION Pat Richards
Ireland, after getting tied up in the centre of the field, strike back out wide with a fantastic try. A very quick pass from Sean Gleeson frees Damien Blanch who simply rounds Jarryd Hayne by the touchline to run in. Richards adds the kick.
IRE 6 – 6 FIJI
11 mins: Fiji attack the Irish line and get a penalty on the final tackle. Fiji keep attacking but Jarryd Hayne drops the ball.
13 mins: Fiji again attack the Irish line after a Wolfhounds knock-on, and in the end Michael Platt has to kick it dead out the back of the in-goal.
14 mins: Incredible defence from Ireland as Aaron Groom dummies his way through the line and looks to be going in at the corner, only for Michael Platt to just get to him. Groom tries a second movement only for Stuart Littler to bundle him to the ground and free the ball in the process.
20 mins: Ireland are attacking the line repeatedly and Haggerty and O’Carroll get held up just short of the line. Both sides seem to be more threatening from deep than up close
25 mins: Interestingly, Ireland decide to kick a penalty from 40m out instead of running it. Pat Richards has the distance but not the accuarcy. Ireland get the ball back from the 20m drop-out.
29 mins: TRY Akaila Uate CONVERSION Naiquama
Ireland completely fail to close down Uate as he is crabbing across the line, and the pay the price when he spots a hole in the line and bursts through. A combination of both indivual brilliance and mediocre defending there.
IRE 6 – 12 FIJI
35 mins: TRY Scott Grix
Ireland get a new set of six when Semi Tadulala drops a high Fitzpatrick kick, and a few tackles later Scott Grix has the ball by the Fijian line, and he steps and forces his way over. Richards hits the post with his kick.
IRE 10 – 12 FIJI
38 mins: Scott Grix is having a purple patch here, as he produces a 40-20. Ireand run to form the scrum to stop the clock.
39 mins: Ireland fail to utilise the positional advantage as Richards drops the ball in a heavy tackle from Uate. Fiji then dare to run the ball from the scrum and Jarryd Hayne nearly breaks down the flank, but he throws a speculator inside to no-one in particular and Ireland recover. The half ends.
HALF TIME: Ireland 10 – 12 Fiji
This game has threatened to turn into a full-flowing saga, but both teams make mistakes at crucial moments. It’s all up for grabs still, but the team that keeps its head should win this.
40 mins: Fiji receive the kick at the start of the second half and start offloading, although Ireland seem to have it under control. Groom puts in a nice kick which Noilea kicks ahead into the direction of Richards, but he drops it under pressure. Fiji have a restarted tackle count.
41 mins: Daryl Millard bulldozes his way over the line, but unfortunately there’s about three defenders between him and the in-goal.
42 mins: Karl Fitzpatrick makes a lovely break down the centre of the filed, and he passes to a supporting Corcoran. Unfortunately for Corcoran, the covering defender is Uate, and only one person is ever going to win that footrace. Tandy puts on a grubber which Tadulala nearly messes up in the in-goal but it leads to a drop-out which Ireland waste.
49 mins: Whereas Ireand keep wasting their kicks in play, usually handing them straight to Hayne, Fiji put up a high bomb which Richards drops, and Platt has to take it out of play and concede the drop out.
51 mins: Daryl Millard puts in a nice grubber, and Damien Blanch only just manages to force it dead. Fiji are building up pressure.
53 mins: Another drop-out for Fiji, as a committee behind the Ireland posts try to let it roll dead onlt for it to bounce back infield at the last minute. Platt again sends it dead, but Richards helps Ireland out with a monster 70m drop-out.
55 mins: TRY Jason Bukuya CONVERSION Naiquama
Well, it was coming all along. Fiji finally make all this pressure count when the open up some space on the line for Jason Bukuya to power through a one-on-one tackle with Platt. Ireland are really up against it now, and they haven’t had the ball for about seven minutes.
IRE 10 – 18 FIJI
60 mins: Ireland look like they’re building up pressure as Fitzpatrick gets held up short, and the grubber kick to the in-goal is messed up by the Fijians and Haggerty swoops on it, but it’s called up for a penalty as the Irish chasers were offside.
62 mins: PENALTY Naiquama
A series of penalties see Fiji march downfield, and a lack of discipline close to the posts allows Naiquama to take advantage and add two points.
IRE 10 – 20 FIJI
65 mins: TRY Jarryd Hayne CONVERSION Naiquama
Fiji get gifted field position through Irish indiscipline once more, and Aaron Groom puts in a beautiful grubber directly under the posts. Hayne swoops in and grabs the ball for the score, colliding with the posts for his efforts.
IRE 10 – 26 FIJI
70 mins: This has turned into the Fiji show. Ireland are trying desperate measures like risky interceptions but they’re not coming off.
72 mins: Ireland finally start attacking again, but Sean Gleeson’s atempted grubber for Blanch runs straight into touch.
73 mins: Platt again has to cover and take punishment in the in-goal, when Blanch fails to cover Noilia’s grubber into the in-goal.
75 mins: TRY Uate
Richards drops a bomb close to his line, and Fiji restart the tackle count. A great pass from Naiquama allows Uate to slip into the right corner. Naiquama narrowly misses the touchline conversion when it bounces off the post back out instead of over the bar.
IRE 10 – 30 FIJI
78 mins: TRY Blanch
Ireland get their attacking mojo working a little too late, as a lovely inside pass from Grix allows Lee Doran a run at the line. Doran is pulled down but he puts up a nice offload for the supporting Blanch. Richards misses the conversion and time runs out before the game can be restarted.
FINAL SCORE: Ireland 14 – 30 Fiji
Well done Fiji, definitely the better side on the day. Ireland lacked the brains in the second half to penetrate the Fijian line, but they also could not handle the waves of pressure they had to put up with on their own line. Ireland can leave this tournament with their heads held up high, and hopefulyl we will see them play again next year. Fiji definitely have attacking threat, but whether it’s enough to threaten the Kangaroos next week is yet to be seen…