OSAKA (Reuters) - Fiji wanted to make a statement after losing to Australia and Uruguay in their opening two World Cup games, and a seven-try thrashing of Georgia was just the way to do it, coach John McKee said on Thursday.
The Pacific islanders had been heavily criticized after last week’s shock loss to Uruguay. Defeat to the improving Georgians would have consigned them to yet another first round exit at the World Cup.
However, with their fleet-footed backs in full flight, the Fijians scythed through Georgia at will in a stunning second half performance at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium.
“Very pleased with the performance of the flying Fijians today, we really countered Georgia in their areas of strength, it was a long arm wrestle in the first half and into the second half” McKee told a news conference.
“Very pleasing to see us finally show some of our flair and talent at this World Cup. It was a great team performance to finish so strongly.”
Former Australia rugby league international Semi Radradra grabbed a brace and helped set up scores for centre Waisea Nayacalevu, scrumhalf Frank Lomani and his fellow winger Josua Tuisova.
“Semi is a world class player,” McKee said. “Probably by his own standards he’s been a bit quiet at this World Cup so far, but today he showed the quality he brings to the game.”
And while McKee was delighted by the attacking play of his back line he also paid tribute to the forwards for matching Georgia in the trenches, particularly at the scrum.
“Scrummaging doesn’t just happen in a week or a month, we’ve been working on our scrum for a long time,” he added.
“Our scrum matches anyone in the world and you saw today we’ve got good depth as well.”
McKee said he was pleased to see Fiji show what they are truly capable of at the World Cup.
“The boys were really hurting after the Uruguay game. They really wanted to make a statement today,” he added.
“They’re very proud to represent their country and deep down they wanted to express themselves as rugby players today.”
Fiji wrap up their group play against Wales on Oct. 9 in Oita.
Reporting by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Hugh Lawson