Fiji player ratings: Waisea Nayacalevu almost inspires his side to another epic win

Fiji's Waisea Nayacalevu is tackled by Wales' Louis Rees-Zammit (right) during the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool C match at the Stade de Bordeaux, France. Credit: Alamy
Fiji's Waisea Nayacalevu is tackled by Wales' Louis Rees-Zammit (right) during the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool C match at the Stade de Bordeaux, France. Credit: Alamy

Fiji came narrowly close to another epic win as they fell to a 32-26 defeat at the hands of Wales; here is how we rated Simon Raiwalui’s side.

15 Ilaisa Droasese: Gained the most metres on attack as he managed to get his hands on the ball plenty throughout the 80 minutes. He beat a few defenders in doing so, too. However, he missed crucial tackles as the last line of defence. 6

14 Selestino Ravutaumada: He again proved how much of a threat he is with ball in hand, but fell short defensively. He made a feeble tackle attempt on Josh Adams, and the Welshman did not waste the chance to add to his World Cup try tally. He missed another tackle and conceded two penalties. 4

Captain’s knock

13 Waisea Nayacalevu: Regularly pushing his claim as the best outside centre in the world, if he isn’t carrying the tag already. He scored his opening try, scoring a blinder off a terrible pass. A mix of great and poor reads defensively, but more of the former than the latter. 8

12 Semi Radradra: Some box-office moments, including the break and offload for Lekima Tagitagivalu’s try, but Wales were able to exploit some of his defensive frailties in the centres, which were sure up when Josua Tuisova was introduced. With the game on the line, the world-class back fumbled it. 5

11 Vinaya Habosi: He made a thunderous try-saving tackle on Louis Rees-Zammit but bottled a catch soon after from Jac Morgan’s crosskick. He had fewer opportunities to shine on attack but did gain good metres when he did. 5

Halfbacks

10 Teti Tela: Handed the responsibility of steering his side after Caleb Muntz’s injury and performed relatively well. He fronted up defensively and shifted the ball on nicely, but his kicking wasn’t quite as effective as Muntz’s, but not poor. The kind of performance that will fill his coach with confidence. 7

9 Frank Lomani: A lively performance from the energetic number nine. He kept the pace of the Fiji attack high and knocked over his two shots at goal. A solid enough game. 6

8 Viliame Mata: An action-packed performance filled with powerhouse carries into the brave Wales defence. He regularly got over the gain line and was a go-to ball carrier for the side. He was strong defensively, too and won a turnover. 8

Hero to zero

7 Lekima Tagitagivalu: He ran an excellent support line to add his name to the scoresheet. That was the highlight of an otherwise solid game where he carried strongly and made his tackles. He was also sin-binned at a crucial time of the match, with Wales taking advantage immediately. 5

6 Albert Tuisue: The powerful back-rower is usually incredibly impressive with ball in hand, but with Mata carrying more, Tuisue was needed to clear out rucks and make tackles. He did that well enough, but it was a quiet game. 6

5 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta: Managed to stall the Wales maul for most of the game and spent a large chunk of the game doing the hard graft of hitting rucks and making tackles. 7

4 Isoa Nasilasila: Along with his locking partner, Fiji’s lineout ran relatively well and did the dirty work at the rucks and mauls. Solid without being a standout. 7

Front-row

3 Luke Tagi: Went deep into the game, showing his fitness in an animated display. While he was impressed around the park, he was put under pressure in an entertaining scrum battle, where he came out second best in the end. 6

2 Samuel Matavesi: Not nearly as brilliant as he was against England in the historic victory, but hardly a poor performance from the Northampton Saints man. He ticked all the boxes around the park and hit his jumpers more often than not. 6

1 Eroni Mawi: Wales earlier scrums did give the Fiji front-row a run for its money, and the Saracens man held his own. A quieter shift around the pitch. 5

Replacements: Fiji needed their bench to inject pace, power and efficiency, and they did exactly that. Levani Botia and Tuisova were outstanding, while Tevita Ikanivere, Mesake Doge and Peni Ravai landed huge hits and got the upper hand in the scrums. 8

READ MORE: Wales cling on to edge Rugby World Cup thriller against Fiji

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