Rugby | Uruguay stun Fiji to pick up first World Cup win in 16 years

Uruguay have beaten Fiji 30-27 in a thrilling match at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The South American minnows made a winning start to their Pool D campaign, picking up their first World Cup victory – and their greatest ever – in 16 years.

Fiji – who lost to Australia in their first match – made 12 changes to their team for the clash against Uruguay.

The Pacific islanders registered the first points of the game in the seventh minute at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium.

Mesulame Dolokoto crossed the whitewash for the match’s first try off the back of a scrum penalty and an attacking lineout.

Uruguay hit back six minutes later, with scrum-half Santiago Arata scoring a try after Leone Nakawara’s spill following a breakaway move from the underdogs.

Felipe Berchesi made no mistake from the conversion to make it 7-5 after 14 minutes.

Fiji retook the lead in the 18th minute when loosehead prop Eroni Mawi drove over the line for the first Test try of his career, with Josh Matavesi adding two points from the conversion.

However, Fiji’s porous defence was breached for the second time just three minutes later.

Manuel Diana powered over the try-line from a lineout, with Berchesi converting once again.

Four minutes later, Uruguay scored their third try through Juan Manuel Cat.

Cat got in down the left to finish off a fine move which started with full-back Gaston Mieres’ high catch and ended with a delightful offload from Rodrigo Silva.

Berchesi split the posts with his third conversion of the half, and his 37th-minute penalty gave Uruguay a shock 24-12 lead at the interval.

Having managed just two tries in total in the 2015 World Cup, the South Americans had bettered that tally inside 40 minutes in Kamaishi.

Fiji scored the first points of the second half, notching their third try in the 44th minute.

Ratuniyarawa drove his way over the whitewash from close range, but Josh Matevesi missed the conversion, as well as a penalty moments earlier.

Another Berchesi penalty extended Uruguay’s lead on the hour mark, before Nikola Matawalu gave Fiji hope with a try six minutes later.

The pattern repeated itself 10 minutes later, with Berchesi sending a penalty between the posts and Matawalu adding his second try in stoppage time.

Despite scoring five tries, Fiji’s defensive frailties resulted in their second defeat in as many games.

Uruguay deserve huge credit for the upset. 30 points is their highest ever World Cup tally in a single match, and this is a team who lost 68-7 to the same opponents last year.

The South Americans had not won a World Cup match since their triumph over Georgia in 2003, and have only 22 professional players on their books.

Next up for Uruguay is a meeting with Georgia on Sunday, while Fiji will also take on the Europeans in their third match on October 3rd.