Fiji home in a nail-biter
TOULOUSE, 12 September - Fiji have opened their IRB Rugby World Cup campaign with an entertaining 35-31 win over Japan in their Pool B match at Stade Municipal in Toulouse.
Fiji scored four tries to three to secure a crucial bonus point, the match going down to the wire as Japan threw everything at Fiji in the final minutes.
After an entertaining first half the lead changed hands several times in the second half providing the vocal Toulouse crowd with a real nail-biter.
Trailing 10-9 at half time Japan centre Shotaro Onishi gave his side an early two-point lead in the 43rd minute with his fourth penalty conversion of the match.
Fjii's Akapusi Qera then picked up his second try in the 49th minute to make the score 17-12.
Japan hit back with a converted try to second row Luke Thompson before a Nicky Little conversion in 55th minute regained the lead for Fiji 20-19. One minute later centre Seru Rabeni scored to extend the lead to 25-19.
A converted try in the 71st minute by second row Kele Leawere gave Fiji some much needed breathing space.
A late consolation to Japan's Thompson reduced the margin to four.
In a free-flowing first half, fly half Nicky Little opened the account for Fiji in the fourth minute with a long range penalty, in the process becoming the 13th player in international rugby history to pass 600 points.
Japan responded with two penalties from the boot of centre Shotaro Onishi taking a surprise 6-3 lead.
Both sides looked to play an expansive game at any opportunity but were troubled by handling errors.
Flanker Qera finally broke the shackles for Fiji in the 35th minute with an intercept try - converted by Little - which gave Fiji a four-point lead before a late penalty by Onishi brought Japan back within a point.