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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK


Fiji vs France: Too close to call

Fiji: A blend of sevens flair and 15-a-side discipline

When Fiji meet France in their Group C decider on Saturday, the stage will be set for one of the most unpredictable encounters of the World Cup so far.

Going on the form of previous Cups, it should be the home side all the way, but the French, so well known for their elusive and awe-inspiring back play, have effectively fallen apart in recent months.

England interest

The creaking state of their back line has not been helped by the loss of both first choice half-backs - inspirational fly-half Thomas Castaignede last week and scrum-half Pierre Mignoni on Thursday - to thigh injuries.

By contrast, Fiji seemed to have picked up the French mantle and combined their world-beating sevens play with the discipline and rigour of the 15-man game to overcome Namibia and Canada in rather more convincing style than the hosts.

England will be watching the outcome of this match with interest. If the men in white beat Tonga on Friday, they will face this loser of this encounter in the quarter-final play-offs.

Stephane Castaignede steps into the French side in place of Mignoni, while Emile Ntamack, who has suffered from indifferent form, received the call he had been hoping for to pose a major attacking threat out wide.

Fiji have made just one change from the side that beat Canada. Either Imanueli Tiko or Manasa Bari will replace Marika Vunibaka, who was red-carded against the Kanucks.

France

Ugo Mola; Christophe Dominici, Emile Ntamack, Richard Dourthe, Philippe Bernat-Salles; Christophe Lamaison, Stephane Castaignede; Christophe Juillet, Olivier Magne, Marc Lievremont, Fabien Pelous, Abdelatif Benazzi, Franck Tournaire, Raphael Ibanez (capt), Christian Califano.

Replacements: Marc Dal Maso, Pieter De Villiers, Olivier Brouzet, Arnaud Costes, Fabien Galthie, Xavier Garbajosa, Cedric Desbrosse.

Fiji

15 Alfred Uluinayau; 14 Fero Lasagavibau, 13 Viliame Satala, 12 Waisake Sototu, 11 Imanueli Tiko or Manasa Bari; 10 Nicky Little, 9 Jacob Rauluni; 8 Alivereti Mocelutu, 7 Setareki Tawake, 6 Ilie Tabua, 5 Emori Katalau, 4 Simon Raiwalui, 3 Joeli Veitayaki, 2 Greg Smith (captain), 1 Dan Rouse.

Replacements 16 Mosese Rauluni, 17 Waisale Serevi, 18 Meli Nakauta, 19 Kolinio Sewabu, 20 Ifereimi Tawake, 21 Epeli Natuivau, 22 Isaia Rasila.



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Rugby World Cup 1999
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