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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
Fiji sneak past US
Nicky Little kicked 14 points to guide Fiji to victory
Fiji 19
Try: Naevo
Con: Little
Pens: Little (4)
USA 18
Tries: Van Zyl
Con: Hercus
Pens: Hercus (2)

Fiji survived a last-gasp conversion attempt as they sneaked a narrow victory against the USA.

US fly-half Mike Hercus' attempt to add the extras to Kort Schubert's try drifted agonisingly wide with the last kick of the match.

The Pacific islanders went into the game as strong favourites against the US, but it was the Americans who nearly took the glory.

They out-scored the famously free-running Fijians by two tries to one, and it took an accurate kicking display from fly-half Nicky Little to clinch victory for the Pacific Islanders.

The US took the lead through a sixth-minute penalty from Hercus and although Fiji enjoyed two-thirds of the possession early on the Pacific Islanders struggled to impose themselves.

A win is a win for us and we're happy about that
Fiji captain Alifereti Doviverata

A series of handling errors disrupted their flow and they fell 6-0 behind when Hercus slotted his second penalty after 22 minutes.

The Fijians had shown glimpses of their potential, with left wing Vilimoni Delasau prominent, but sloppy passing and poor ball retention prevented them from building any momentum.

The Pacific side finally got on the board through a Little penalty after 33 minutes but things did not improve for the Fijians after the break.

As soon as the whistle went they started to turn over possession and found themselves trailing 13-3 when Riaan van Zyl touched down after a fine kick from Hercus, who added the conversion.

Fiji cut the deficit through a Little penalty five minutes later before finally exploding into life for a dazzling try.

Delasau's pass to Marika Vunibaka might have been forward but there was nothing wrong with the rest of the move, which was finished off under the posts by Apensia Naevo.

We were very, very disappointed
USA captain Dave Hodges

Little's conversion levelled matters at 13-13 with 25 minutes to go and the Saracens fly-half then edged them into a six-point lead with two penalties.

With time running out it looked as though Fiji were safe, but the US put together a series of phases which ended with Schubert crossing in the corner.

It left Hercus with a conversion attempt from the touchline to win the game, but the ball drifted wide of the posts to hand Fiji a dramatic victory.

Fiji: A Uluinayau; M Vunibaka, A Tuilevu, S Rabeni, V Delasau; N Little, M Rauluni; N Seru, G Smith, J Veitayaki; I Rawaqa, A Naevo; A Mocelutu, K Sewabu, A Doviverata (capt).

Replacements: B Gadolo, R Nyholt, V Maimuri, S Koyamaibole, W Serevi, E Ruivadra, N Ligairi.

USA: P Emerick; D Fee, P Eloff, K Cross, R Van Zyl; M Hercus, K Dalzell; M MacDonald, K Khasigian, D Dorsey, A Parker, L Gross, K Schubert, D Hodges (capt), D Lyle.

Replacements: M Wyatt, J Tarpoff, G Klerck, J Gouws, K Kjar, S Sika, J Buchholz.

Links to more Rugby World Cup stories


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13 Oct 03  |  Fiji
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