BORDEAUX : Fiji were left to bemoan missed opportunities, none more heartbreaking than Semi Radradra’s drop with a last-minute comeback on the cards, after sliding to a 32-26 defeat to Wales in their Pool C opener in Bordeaux on Sunday.
“We just weren’t clinical enough, we dropped the ball over the try line, we had a couple of opportunities we couldn’t score,” Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui said.
A tournament so far rife with video referee controversies can add several more to the list from this game. A close-range Fiji score late in the second half was chalked off for a knock-on, with Ryan Elias escaping on-field censure for what many fans may feel was a no-arms tackle.
Wales also managed to concede clusters of penalties near their own line in the second half without having players sent to the sin bin.
Coach Raiwalui stopped short of a full-throated condemnation of Matthew Carley’s refereeing of the game, but did express some surprise at Wales not sustaining more than one yellow card in the game.
“It’s tough to talk when you’re hot after the match, I did think when we were down in the corner we had multiple penalties and didn’t get a yellow card (for Wales),” Raiwalui said.
“Referees have a tough job , we didn’t get the rub of the green.”
Raiwalui might also rue bringing on powerhouse substitutes Josua Tuisova and Levani Botia so late in the game, with both immediately offering their trademark powerful breaks but too late to overcome the Welsh lead.
They will be fit to face Australia in the next game after recovering from knocks for this one, Raiwalui said.
“Both will be available for selection, they’re quality players who came on and made a big impact,” he said.
Captain Waisea Nayacalevu declined to comment on the refereeing of the game when asked by reporters, saying instead his team had more opportunities to score than they managed to convert.
He also praised the French crowd who adopted Fiji en masse during the game.
“Amazing, amazing crowd, I was just proud to be here and just want to thank all the supporters who came and supported the game tonight,” he said.
(Reporting By Lawrence White, editing by Pritha Sarkar)