Autumn internationals: Ireland v Fiji

Joe Schmidt's Ireland have a potential banana skin to negotiate at the Aviva Stadium

Johnny Watterson Sat, Nov 18
LIVE: Autumn internationals: Ireland v Fiji

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  • Good after noon and welcome. Ireland face into their second match of the November Series against Tier 2 nation Fiji and the pressure turns a little.
    Ireland are expected to win despite 13 changes from last week. Fiji are building to the next World Cup in two year’s time, where they want to get out of their group.

    Kick-off is in around 30 minutes. But Joe Schmidt has already been talking....
  • Joe Schmidt on Ireland: “They are nervous, anticipating and excitement. It will be a big test. It’s a big opposition physically and in world rankings. We want to see if they can come out the other side with a big performance.”
  • Joe Schmidt on Argentina next week - “We’re really open minded. Some of these guys are definitely playing for positions. Some players will come back in but some of them (will be playing) for longer term positions as well.”
  • Here are a few Fijians who could make an impact today. Taken from John O’Sullivan’s pen pics in today’s Irish Times.

    11 Nemani Nadolo

    Age: 29

    Height: 6’5”

    Weight: 135kg (21st 4lbs)

    Caps: 26

    Points: 217

    A gentle giant off the pitch he is virtually impossible to stop on it as Leinster fans and players will attest when he played for Montpellier in a Champions Cup match earlier in the season; it’s like trying to tackle a fast moving wardrobe. A superstar.  

    5 Leone Nakarawa

    Age: 29

    Height: 6’7”

    Weight: 122kg (19st 3lbs)

    Caps: 45

    Points: 50

    One of the greats of the modern game, Irish supporters will recognise him from his time at the Glasgow Warriors and latterly Racing 92. He offloads like no other can, a phenomenal athlete.

    14 Timoci Nagusa
    Age: 30
    Height: 6’2”
    Weight: 100kg (15st 10lbs)
    Caps: 29
    Points: 75
    He played for Ulster for a couple of seasons – he scored eight tries in 30 matches – from 2008 before leaving for French club Montpellier; very quick and powerful.

  • This is just the 4th time the two teams have met. Fiji are hoping to break their duck as Ireland have won the previous three matches.
  • 10 mins to go before kick-off. This is the Irish lineup with replacements -

    15 Andrew Conway

    14 Darren Sweetnam

    13 Chris Farrell

    12 Stuart McCloskey

    11 Dave Kearney

    10 Joey Carbery

    9 Kieran Marmion

    1 Jack McGrath

    2 Rob Herring

    3 Andrew Porter

    4 Ultan Dillane

    5 Devin Toner

    6 Rhys Ruddock

    7 Jordi Murphy

    8 Jack Conan

    16 James Tracy

    17 Cian Healy

    18 Tadhg Furlong

    19 Kieran Treadwell

    20 CJ Stander

    21 Luke McGrath

    22 Ian Keatley

    23 Robbie Henshaw


  • President Michael D Higgins and IRFU President and former Irish frontrow   Phil Orr are now on the pitch to meet the teams.
  • Very gracious handshakes from the Fijians, grasping Michael D's hand with both of theirs.
  • And with a little bow forwards thrown in too.
  • The Fiji team and replacements -

    15 Kini Murimurivalu

    14 Timoci Nagusa

    13 Jale Vatubua

    12 Levani Botia

    11 Nemani Nadolo

    10 Ben Volavola

    9 Henry Seniloli

    1 Campese Ma'afu

    2 Talemaitoga Tuapati

    3 Manasa Saulo

    4 Api Ratuniyarawa

    5 Leone Nakarawa

    6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu

    7 Akapusi Qera

    8 Nemani Nagusa

    16 Sunia Koto

    17 Peni Ravai


    18 Kalivati Tawake

    19 Sikeli Nabou

    20 Peceli Yato

    21 Nikola Matawalu

    22 Asaeli Tikoirotuma

    23 Vereniki Goneva

  • Anybody watch the Welsh against Georgia? It could have been a draw with Georgia pushing at the end with two huge scrums under the Welsh posts that just didn’t come off for them. Wales had made 14 changes from the starting team from last week. The Irish Times report follows.

    Aghhhh it’s Ireland’s Call

  • Ok Fiji are lining up for their traditional war dance, first adopted in 1939 to match New Zealand’s Haka.

  • Fiji have made 4 changes from last week, importantly Nemani Nadolo, the Montpellier left wing facing Darren Sweetnam. Not so sweet.
  • Kick off
  • Clean ball from the kickoff but Ireland struggle for control. Irish scrum
  • Ball goes loose and scrumhalf Henry Seniloli chases... Fiji pressing and Nadolo counters stepping over Marmion en route.
  • Irish scrum inside Irish 22. Opening scrum was rock solid but this one reset.
  • McCloskey takes it into contact as Ireland run it out of the 22. Penalty as Jordi Murphy wins penalty at the breakdow. Good work Murphy.
  • 7 mins: Clever Carbery grubber puts play into the Fiji 22 for the first time. Nadolo clears but Ireland gain possession. Ireland going thro the phases in Fiji 22.

    Carberry magic bursts thro and cuts across to his right and feeds Sweetnam galloping up the right win and in space. Sweetnam in for his first international try. Genius from Carbery, who created it from nothing.


  • Carbery misses the conversion AND he is on the deck now getting attention.
  • 12 mins

    Nice kick and   chase from Sweetnam but Fiji counter through outside centre Jale Vatubua and Nadolo. Good counter but scrum to Ireland in their 22.

  • Carbery is okay and proves it with a nicely judged kick into Fiji 22. But the ball comes out on the Fiji side and kicked to touch. Fiji having difficulties in the breakdown, which was the same as last week v Italy.
  • 16 mins:

    It is Ireland now banging into the Figi 22. It is good recycling but Figi holding the line. Herring makes ground and Marmion is knocked back. Fiji get the ball.

  • 18 mins:

    Here go Ireland again and they are back in the 22. McCloskey carries up but it’s a penalty against Ireland – Ruddock – Fiji clear to right touchline.

  • 19 mins:

    It’s an open game. Certainly Fiji are trying to play it that way with Ireland looking for control. So far a lively quarter.

  • 21 mins: Fiji penalty. Ben Volavola steps up and strikes it beautifully. It’s over for 3 points.

    Ireland 5 Fiji 3

  • 24 mins: TRY!Solid scrum centre field from Ireland. McCloskey carries up into the 22. Mc Grath takes it on. Dillane on to it too. It goes out to Conway and Conway attacks and spins it out to Dave Kearney who dives in at the corner. Conway stands up two defenders for that one. A well worked try from Ireland.

    Carbery misses 0/2


  • 27 mins: Nadolo comes into the centre and takes the ball on. Three Irish players take him down. Proper order.

  • 29 mins: Fiji smashing into the gain line but Irish tackling is holding up and Fiji spilling a bit of ball on contact. It’s another scrum outside the Irish 22.

  • 30 mins: A Mexican wave already. Who gave them tickets?

    9 handling errors from Fiji so far and just 3 from Ireland.

  • 33 mins:

    Carbery clears with a long range penalty. We are just inside the Irish half. Herring finds Conan. Ireland back into centre field recycling. But they are not going anywhere....Carbery hoist a cross field. Conway contests it with Nadolo...Fiji defenders come in and the ball bounces forward. Kearney is on to it and touches down.

    But the referee looks for a replay and shows Conway to have knocked on with his hand.

  • 33 mins. TRY! It might be the furthest Conan has ever had to run for a try. Fiji spill it in contact and it just falls in front of the Irish number 8. He picks it up on the run from the halfway line. Right place at right time and composure to make the run.

    Carbery converts 1/3


  • 37 mins: Carbery is making beautifully flat passes. But he puts himself in danger each time and while it is hugely effective you wonder if he has the frame for it.

  • 40 mins: TRY ! Short lineout to Dillane, who knocks on. Advantage Fiji. ...a bit of magic from Nadolo. He catches, drops the ball partially but before it hits the ground kicks forward down the left wing and gathers it, beats the first man and eats up the ground off loading to scrumhalf Henry Seniloli for the try.

    Converted !

    Fijian magic.

    IRELAND 17 FIJI 10

  • Halftime – Joe what will he think? It was probably a little loose for Schmidt and as Eddie O’Sullivan has just pointed out ‘you need to earn the right before you go wide.’

    Fiji want the game to open up. Ireland does not want that. Watch how Schmidt tightens up everything from passing to tackling and contact and maybe most of all decision making.

    Still Carbery is showing what we all knew he had – class.

  • This is really exciting play from Carbery. He has unlocked Fiji a number of times and it is purely instinctive. He has tasted his fillings a few times shipping big tackles but what a revelation from the outhalf.

  • Restart ...
  • 41 mins: Ruddock knocked back. McCloskey bangs up..again...It goes right and left back to Ruddock and Carbery dinks it through for Conway to chase up the right. Fiji lineout.

  • 45 mins: Nice interplay between Conway and Sweetnam and then Marmion. But a foot in touch gives it back to Fiji.

  • 45 mins: TRY. Nagusa reads a Kearney pass and just gets a hand to it inside the Irish half. He takes off and no one is going to catch him as he runs in under the Irish posts.Converted and we are all square.

    IRELAND 17 FIJI 17

  • 48 mins:

    It is game on here and Ireland have not come out as settled as we might have thought. A lot of it is Fiji’s bustling and running style.

  • 52 mins:

    Ireland are bashing up the middle. Farrell, McCloskey, Conan and captain Ruddock all taking it on. The ball goes to touch and it’s an Irish lineout.

    Ireland into the Fiji 22. Sweetnam, McGrath but no releasing on the ground from McGrath and penalty against Ireland. Fiji clear.

  • Here here Ross !
  • 54 mins:

    Ah Nadolo did it again. He didn’t partially drop the ball for the first try. He deliberately let it fall to his feet to kick it all without breaking stride.

  • 56 mins: Fiji break brilliantly as Nagusa takes it up to within five yards but loses it with a reverse pass as Conway cruches him on the touchline. Wonderful counter attack as Ireland change their entire front row.

  • 59 mins:

    Conway boots it over the halfway line. Fiji counter but lose it. Conway again. Another player standing out. Ireland are punching forwards with Cian Healy getting the crowd to their feet. But Ireland conceded a penalty 10 metres out. Great from Healy but to no avail, McCloskey unable to control Healy’s reverse pass.

  • 60 mins: Ireland in the Fiji 22. Healy again. And again Ireland don’t release on the ground, not Healy. Three penalties in the last 10 minutes as Ireland go on the offensive. Replay shows clean Healy presentation.


  • 63 mins: Ruddock has gone off probably for a HIA. He looked shook.

  • 64 mins: Conway kicks a grubber down the line and chases. He has the pace to win the foot race but the ball hits the corner flag and bounces into touch. What bad luck there for Conway.

    Carbery also shaken by a tackle and Keatly is on and Toner heading off for Tredwell. Henshaw comes into the game for Farrell.

  • 66 mins: Stander is also on the pitch so wholesale changes for Ireland in the last 10 minutes.
  • 67 mins: Keatly’s first act is to kick a penalty close in but to the left. It’s a confident kick although some pressure on him. Good start for the Munster replacement outhalf.

    IRELAND 20 FIJI 17

  • 68 mins. Jordi Murphy steps offside 30 metres out. Volavola steps up with a relatively simple kick to level the match. It’s good and we are all square with 11 minutes to play.

    IRELAND 20 FIJI 20

  • 73 MINS: Penalty ! This is finely balanced but Ireland bashing up the middle again. Healy takes it up and there’s a shrill whistle. The referee wants a look at the tackle. Was it above the horizontal. Well, yes it is. This could be a red card...Ha ha the TMO doesn’t seem to agree with the ref that the tackle was good. But it’s a penalty anyway and Keatly steps up. It’s good from 40 metres.

    IRELAND 23 FIJI 20

  • 74 mins: Sweetnam takes a knee in the solar plexus in a high ball contest. He’s up. He’s a Cork hurler for God’s sake.

  • 76 mins: It’s a frantic sort of end to this match with the ball pinging all over the place. Ireland have it and Healy – monumental since he came on – pours forward but the referee blows for a penalty against Ireland. Phew the pace of this game.

    IRELAND 23 FIJI 20

  • 78 mins: Luke McGrath in for Marion at scrumhalf

  • 79 mins: The good news it is all in the Fiji half as the clock runs down. Ireland scrum. Reset and the seconds trickle away.

    Conway man of the match. Good choice Donal Lenihan.

  • 80 mins: and the ball is kicked out. Ireland sqeak through with a win and a lot of mistakes. Good win for an inexperienced side and good luck to Fiji, who put in a really entertaining 80 minutes shift. Final score.

    IRELAND 23 FIJI 20

  • Andrew Conway: “Fiji are a great side we knew they would be very physical. We’ll have an interesting review to fix things for next week. Probably disappointed in a lot of aspects but happy we ground out a win. We’ll have a lot of repairs to do in a big week going into Argentina.”

  • Figi are singing a glorious song on the pitch. It sounds like a hymn.

    Rhys Ruddock: “Very relieved to be quite honest. We showed our resolve to dig in and get the win. They were immensely physical. We probably played into their hands a few times, a few turnovers probably too many to be honest with you. Give them turnover ball and they come at you. We probably gave them too many opportunities."

  • “We never got out of second gear,” says Eddie O’Sullivan.

  • “I thought Carbery went out of the game in the second half,” says Eddie O’Sullivan. “I can’t put my finger on it but there seemed to be a malaise in the second half.”

  • “Too often we were shovelling the ball to the man beside us. Too many handling errors,” says Shane Horgan.

  • “We played with the ball a lot in the second half but with really no dividends,” said Eddie O’Sullivan.

  • Well folks that the end of the live blog. Thanks for your patience and see you nest week when Ireland meet Argentins in the finals test of the series.