Fiji push Ireland to the limit
NOVEMBER INTERNATIONAL REPORT: Fiji came close to beating an inexperienced Ireland team in a pulsating clash in Dublin on Saturday but the home side clung on for a sixth win a row.
The 23-20 scoreline was a sharp contrast to the hugely impressive 38-3 thrashing of South Africa last week.
Tries by Darren Sweetnam, Dave Kearney and Jack Conan put Ireland 17-3 up but five minutes into the second half, Fiji pulled level.
The muscular pairing of Henry Seniloli and Timoci Nagusa repeatedly posed problems for Ireland, who had made 13 changes to the starting line-up that dismantled the Springboks.
Faced with the dogged Fijians, they needed two penalties from Ian Keatley late in the game to secure victory.
One of the few Irish players to impress was Sweetnam, a former hurling champion, who went over in the corner after five minutes to open the scoring.
Nagusa made a considerable impact for Fiji, picking off a pass from Dave Kearney and running home before the conversion brought the scores level.
A Fiji win would have made it a day to remember for both codes of rugby in the South Pacific - Fiji's rugby league team pulled off a huge shock by beating New Zealand in the World Cup quarter-finals earlier Saturday.
Ireland play host to Argentina next Saturday, with the Pumas fresh from a 31-15 win over Italy while Fiji play Canada in Narbonne, southern France, the same day.
Tries: Sweetnam, Kearney, Conan
Pens: Keatley 2
Tries: Seniloli, Nagusa
Cons: Volavola 2
Pens: Volavola 2
Ireland: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 5 Devin Toner, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Robbie Henshaw.
Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Jale Vatabua, 12 Levani Botia, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Henry Seniloli, 8 Nemani Nagusa, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Dominiko Waqaniboruto, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Talemaitoga Tuapati, 1 Campese Ma'afu.
Replacements: 16 Sunia Koto, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Kalivati Tawake, 19 Sikeli Nabou, 20 Peceli Yato/Semi Kunatani, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 23 Vereniki Goneva.
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Alex Ruiz (France)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)