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5 days ago
Fiji have pulled off a massive boilover, shocking New Zealand 4-2 at Wellington Regional Stadium to book a meeting with Australia in the Semi Finals next Friday night.
Fiji may have not been expected to defeat New Zealand, yet they appeared the more likely side in the early stages of Saturday night's clash.
Brayden Wiliame came agonisingly close to posting the first points of the night after slicing through the New Zealand defence only to drop the ball as he went to reach out for the try line. The Bati were the first to strike, however, with a penalty allowing Apisai Koroisau to kick Fiji to an early 2-0 lead.
The 2-0 score line stood until half time as both sides failed to capitalise on opportunities. The Fijians enjoyed a large share of possession in the opening half of the game, yet were consistently denied by strong defence from the Kiwis. New Zealand, however, were denied any real chance to build momentum in the first half due to their own ill-discipline and errors.
The Kiwis began the second half in more promising fashion and were rewarded with an early penalty goal to draw level with the Bati in the 44th minute. However, they were immediately placed under enormous pressure when Jordan Rapana was sin-binned for holding down Fijian winger Suliasi Vunivalu for too long in the 46th minute.
Fortunately for David Kidwell, his side continued to display stoicism in defence, holding out the Fijians until Rapana returned. The middle stages of the second half were characterised by a flurry of errors as both sides struggled to gain any real fluency in attack. As a result, when presented with the opportunity for a penalty goal, the Bati took it and gained a 4-2 lead in the 62nd minute.
The Kiwis threatened to strike late yet Mick Potter's side held on to claim a thrilling two-point victory in a stunning upset.
Fiji now progress through to the Semi Finals to take on Australia in Brisbane on Friday night while New Zealand become the first side from the big three (Australia, New Zealand and England) to miss the Semi-Finals in World Cup history.
New Zealand 2 - Fiji 4
Venue: Westpac Stadium
Halftime Score: New Zealand 0 Fiji 2
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Kevin Naiqama
2 points - Viliame Kikau
1 points - Joseph Tapine
NEW ZEALAND (2)
Penalty Goals: Shaun Johnson (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Apisai Koroisau (1/1), Taane Milne (1/1)