Fiji have pulled off the first big shock of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, defeating Australia on a scoreline of 22-15 in Saint-Etienne this evening.
The result heaps further pressure on Eddie Jones, who is coming under increasing scrutiny despite only taking charge of his first game in July.
Having won their opening pool game against Georgia, Australia would have been expecting to pick up another result in this fixture and all but seal their place in the quarter-finals. Fiji showed some good form in the buildup to the tournament, but they came up short against a fairly poor Wales side in their tournament opener.
However, once the match kicked off, it quickly became apparent that the Aussies would in for a tough test.
Fiji were brilliant throughout. While they did not quite display the free-flowing rugby that they are famous for, they were stern in their defence and made the most of their scoring opportunities from the tee. Having gone in four points up at the interval, their try early in the second half would prove to be a key moment.
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) September 17, 2023
Australia never really looked like getting back into the game from this point, and although they did get a try of their own heading into the final ten minutes, Fiji would hold out to secure a famous result.
It is their first victory over the Aussies since 1954.
Eddie Jones feels Australia dominated against Fiji
Eddie Jones has had a difficult start to his second stint as Australia head coach, and while some felt their victory against Georgia and a relatively kind pool draw would help him turn things around, this result now puts their World Cup campaign in jeopardy.
They will go into their game against Wales next weekend knowing that a loss would eliminate them from the tournament. Such an outcome would surely lead to questions around Jones' future.
Speaking after the game, the Aussie said that while he felt Fiji deserved the win, his team had dominated the game.
Thoroughly deserved victory for Fiji. They outplayed us, particularly around the ruck. In turnovers, I think they executed three times more turnovers than us.
In a close game like that, that's the difference...
For some reason we were just off today. If you look at the stats today, we dominated and scored two tries to one.
But we were a poor version of ourselves today. There's a bit of soul searching to do, but it makes the Wales game pretty important.
You get the sense that the Australia coach is far from happy with his players. A quick look at the stats would also make his claim that they dominated look rather dubious.
While Australia would have the better territory, Fiji had more possession, carried for more metres, and had more attacking scrums and line-outs. They also missed fewer tackles than the Wallabies despite attempting 37 more of them, and won 11 turnovers in comparison to their four.
Jones has been very tetchy with Australian journalists in recent times, getting involved in a number of clashes as his side struggled for form. That is unlikely to change in light of this result.
As for Fiji, they are now right back in contention to reach the quarter-finals. It would be brilliant to see them make a run in this World Cup.