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Rugby World Cup | Quarter-Finals
Oct 15, 2023 at 4pm UK
Tuilagi (14'), Marchant (23')
Mata (28'), Ravai (64'), Botitu (68')

England survive Fiji surge to reach World Cup semi-finals

England survive Fiji surge to reach World Cup semi-finals
© Reuters
England quell a late surge from Fiji to advance to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals with a 30-24 quarter-final win at the Orange Velodrome.

England survived a second-half surge from Fiji to deny the Pacific nation a first-ever Rugby World Cup semi-final in a pulsating quarter-final success at the Orange Velodrome.

Steve Borthwick's side - inspired by an astounding display at number eight from Ben Earl - came through a gruelling physical slog to win 30-24, setting up a showdown with either France or South Africa for a spot in the showpiece event.

Fiji memorably marched to their first-ever win over England during the latter's dismal period of summer preparations, but the Pacific nation were second best to the 2003 winners' magnificent work at the breakdown during the opening 40.

Manu Tuilagi spun into the corner from a side-on tackle in the 14th minute for his first England try since November 2021, nine minutes before Joe Marchant crossed the line, having played around a dazed Marcus Smith as he received on-field treatment from the medic.

Vinaya Habosi was sent to the sin bin for that face-on-face clash with a bloodied Smith, but even with 14 men on the field, Simon Raiwalui's side notched through Viliame Mata, who produced a slick feint to open up space and dived through in the 28th minute.

A couple of Owen Farrell penalties would at least extend England's lead to 11 points before the break, and the captain added another three to England's tally in the 54th minute, but Borthwick's side were exposed in the 67th minute and were made to pay.

Fiji worked the ball from right to left, where England were incredibly short of cover, and while Jonny May made a terrific last-ditch challenge to stop Waisea Nayacalevu in his tracks, Peni Ravai dived over a few seconds later.

All of a sudden, England's game plan was in tatters, and just one minute later, Fiji were back in the quarter-final, as Isoa Nasilasila and Vilimoni Botitu charged through for a two-on-one, and the former assisted his number 10 for a simple try before Simione Kuruvoli's conversion brought the Pacific nation level at 24-24.

However, a Farrell drop goal and penalty inside the final 10 minutes put paid to Fiji's hopes of a maiden semi, and one final Courtney Lawes turnover with 86 minutes on the clock punched England's ticket to the last four.

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