Kamaishi, Japan, Sep 25 : Fans in the picturesque Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium were treated to a huge upset here on Wednesday as Uruguay shocked rugby heavyweights Fiji 30-27.
Uruguay started the game as heavy underdogs but a stunning first-half performance including three tries and penalty gave them a 24-12 lead at halftime, while tight, determined defending helped secure the victory against a Fijian second-half comeback.
Despite opening the scoring through Mesulame Dolokoto in the fifth minute, Fiji struggled to find a rhythm to their play. Knock-ons and missed tackles defined the Fijian play for the first 40 minutes as Uruguay punished the sloppy play presented to them.
Santiago Arata pounced on a spilled Fijian ball eight minutes later, as the diminutive scrumhalf wriggled through two tackles to immediately peg back Fiji. The score stood at 7-5 to Uruguay when Eroni Mawi scored to put Fiji back in front at 12-7, however, Manuel Diana went over down low in the 21st minute; Uruguay found themselves leading once again at 14-12.
Only four minutes later, Uruguay were celebrating a brilliant, free-flowing try that could have been scored by the All Blacks. As Juan Manuel Cat touched town to extend Uruguay's winning margin to 21-12, the Fijians looked shell-shocked.A penalty to add three more points to Uruguay's total just before the halftime break gave them a 24-12 lead and set the stage for an exciting second half.
As the second half got underway, Fijian arrived with a lot more determination. Seven minutes into the half, Ratuniyarawa got five points for Fiji to give them hope of avoiding a humiliating loss and narrow the lead to 24-17.
As the half progressed, Fiji continued to mount pressure on an increasingly tired but determined Uruguayan defense. However, a quick break from Uruguay to play back into the Fijian 22 and after yet more Fijian indiscipline, Uruguay were awarded a penalty.
As Felipe Berchesi slotted over again to add the three to make the score 27-17. This gave Fiji the task of least a converted try and a penalty to just draw level with the huge underdogs.
Following the penalty, Fiji ramped up the pressure once again and in the 66th minute, reserve scrumhalf, Matawalu dummied to go over on the fringes of the ruck to take the score to 27-22.
However, Berchesi then added another penalty, to extend to Uruguay advantage to 30-22, and to force Fiji to get two converted scores to win a game with 15 minutes left on the clock. For the final ten minutes, Fiji threw everything at Uruguay's increasingly desperate defense but could not get over the Uruguay try line.
As the final gong sounded, Fiji only then got a try as Matawalu got a second, but it was too late and Fiji claimed their most famous and indeed most important win in their history. Following the game, Uruguay captain Juan Manuel Gaminara, with tears in his eyes, spoke about the pride he felt for "my country and my players," adding that his team had been preparing for this tournament for four years and believed that they could win this game.
Uruguay leaves the rugby town of Kamaishi with only their third World Cup win in history but with the support of the Rugby World Cup. Fiji, on the other hand, now face an immense test to escape the group and will have to beat Wales and hope the Welsh lose to Australia to go through to the quarterfinals.(XINHUA)