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Sunday, 17 November, 2002, 16:42 GMT
Ireland too strong for Fiji
Shane Horgan moved into the centre after Brian O'Driscoll was withdrawn
Shane Horgan (left) battles with Fiji's Norman Ligaigi
Ireland 64-17 Fiji

Ireland's powerful first-half performance ensured a comfortable victory over a battling Fijian side in Sunday's international at Lansdowne Road.

Eddie O'Sullivan's team, with nine changes from the win over Australia, played some delightful running rugby in the opening period to score six tries which helped them to a 39-3 lead.

To their credit, Fiji battled back to score two tries in the second half with the Irish, having made several substitutions, appearing to ease off somewhat.

Ireland made a fast start with full-back Geordan Murphy notching his seventh international try in the fourth minute after a Shane Horgan break had split the opposition defence.

After more concerted Irish pressure, the second try came in the 14th minute with Kevin Maggs diving over after O'Driscoll's floated pass had found Bishop on the burst.

Geordan Murphy operated at full-back against Fiji
Geordan Murphy: Two first half tries

The team then exchanged penalties with David Humphreys' 18th minute effort followed by Nicky Little opening Fiji's account.

But normal Irish service was resumed in the 27th minute with Murphy notching his second try of the match after a delightful Humphreys chip over the Fiji defence.

Captain Brian O'Driscoll then equalled Brendan Mullin's Irish international record of 17 tries when he stormed over the Fijian line on the half-hour to extend the lead to 25-3.

Justin Bishop got in on the try-scoring act by notching Ireland's fifth touchdown in the 33rd minute.

Humphreys, who had missed three of his four previous conversions, got back on target to extend Ireland's lead to 32-3.

Kevin Maggs rounded off a tremendous first half for the Irish by cutting through the Fijian defence for his second try of the afternoon.

  Match Facts
Ireland 64 (39)
Tries: Murphy 2, Maggs 3, O'Driscoll, Bishop, Dawson, Foley
Conv: Humphreys 4
Pens: Humphreys 3
Fiji 17 (3)
Tries: Doviverata, Narruhn
Conv: Little 1, Serevi
Pens: Little 1

Humphreys' conversion left Ireland 39-3 ahead at the interval.

Fiji fought back in the early stages of the second half with Alifereti Doviverata notching a converted try which cut Ireland's lead to 29 points.

The visitors looked certain to score another try two minutes later when they had a huge overlap on the Irish left but full-back Waisale Serevi knocked on at the crucial moment.

However, Ireland then regained the initiative with forwards Kieron Dawson and Anthony Foley scoring tries in quick succession.

But the Fijians continued to trouble the Irish and Serevi's typical break enabled replacement Joseph Narruhn to notch the visitors second try in the 66th minute.

Fiji played their best rugby in the final quarter but somewhat against the run of play, man-of-the-match Kevin Maggs rounded the game off in injury-time for the Irish with his third try of the afternoon.

Ireland: G Murphy; S Horgan; K Maggs, B O'Driscoll, capt, J Bishop; D Humphreys, G Easterby; M Horan, F Sheahan, J Hayes, L Cullen, M O'Kelly, A Quinlan, K Dawson, A Foley.
Replacements: R Corrigan, M O'Driscoll, E Miller, S Byrne, P Stringer, R O'Gara, G Dempsey.

Fiji: W Serevi; F Lasagavibau; V Satala, S Bai, N Ligairi; N Little, J Rauluni; S Koyamaibole, A Doviverata, A Mocelutu, S Raiwalui, A Naevo, B Cavubati, G Smith, capt, R Nyholt.
Replacements: P Biu, I Rasila, I Rawaqa, S Tawake, S R, J Narruhn, I Mow.

Referee: Tony Spreadbury (England)

BBC Five Live's Alastair Eykyn
"Ireland were dominant in all departments"
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan
"We controlled the structure of the game"
Ireland's David Humphreys
"We are pleased with our performance"
Ireland's Kevin Maggs
"To score three tries is a dream come true"
 NOV 16-17 TESTS
 FRANCE 20-20 NZ

Ireland v Argentina

Ireland v Fiji

Ireland v Australia

Brian O'Driscoll


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