September 25, 2019 / 10:24 AM / a month ago

Fiji coach says kickers not to be blamed alone for Uruguay shock

KAMAISHI, Japan (Reuters) - Fiji head coach John McKee refused to single out his misfiring goalkickers after Uruguay stunned them 30-27 in a Rugby World Cup Pool D thriller in Kamaishi on Wednesday.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - Fiji News Conference - Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, Kamaishi, Japan, September 24, 2019 - Fiji head coach John McKee during the news conference. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

Fiji missed five kicks in the contest which cost them 11 points as they became only the third side in the World Cup’s history to lose despite scoring two more tries than their opponents.

With regular flyhalf and kicker Ben Volavola starting on the bench four days after starting in the loss to Australia, early kicking duties fell to Josh Matavesi.

The Newcastle Falcons player missed three of his five kicks, including two relatively simple shots from near the posts.

McKee bought Volavola on for the last 30 minutes but the 28-year-old too missed a couple of them.

With Felipe Berchesi scoring 15 points – the most by a Uruguayan in a World Cup match – the contrast was glaring but McKee said it was one of a number of issues.

“In hindsight we could say we should have done this and that and yes, our goalkicking was a factor in the game,” said the New Zealander.

“When you lose by such a narrow margin, goalkicking would have made the difference.

“But there were other things we didn’t do well either in the game so we can’t narrow it down to just kicking.”

Fiji had more possession and territory than Uruguay but McKee was still left bemoaning his side’s numerous errors.

“We made too many fundamental errors in the game and Uruguay capitalised on them,” he said.

“If we had been a lot more patient at times then the result could have been different.”

“In the first half Uruguay capitalised on errors and scored three tries so we were then chasing the game and it put us under a lot of pressure.”

The setback has jeopardised Fiji’s chance to reach the last eight for the first time since 2007 though, thanks to the bonus in both their Pool D losses, they are still hoping to progress beating Georgia and Wales in their remaining matches.

“It is going to be challenging for us (to qualify) and we are going to be relying on others,” McKee conceded.

“For us, we have to focus on our game against Georgia in eight days’ time.”

“All we can do is play well in that, look to be winning the game and then secure a bonus point.”

Reporting by Jack Tarrant and Yoko Kono; editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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