New Zealand Nadi Legends and Nadi Legends in a group picture after the inaugural Joe Lutumailagi Cup game in Nadi yesterday. NZ Nadi won 2-1.

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Fans disappointed, reset for England

Opinions / Analysis

THE Flying Fijians' defeat to Portugal in the last pool game is a wake up call.

A loss that awed fans in the Rugby mad country but took consolation after the team picked up a losing bonus point to send Australia out at the pool stage for the first time in World Cup history.

It was an historic first ever tournament win for Os Lobos and despite the 24-23 loss, Fiji made the quarter-finals of a World Cup for the second time since 2007, but there’s a level of skepticism.

Catch up rugby

The back burner performance raises questions that only coach Simon Raiwalui has answers, though he admitted Portugal played good rugby and there were areas that Fiji was shy in their game.

“We have watched them play with a lot of intensity and it showed today.

“They played with a lot of heart, desire and were ferocious, Os Lobos came out on top.”

What is concerning for Fiji was the Portugal victory was fully deserved.

Reset focus

Fiji desperately needs to reset its focus as this is now back-to-back weeks, against Georgia and Portugal, where they have looked a shadow of their peak selves.

Raiwalui put the best team on the field but was it, his work cut out before the quarterfinal match against England.

“England is certainly a good team, we obviously need to recover, regroup and review and it's going to be a tough game.”

Rugby culture-mixed feelings

For Fijians rugby is a culture, with every victory it radiates people, brings joy and happiness and it’s these moments that get the adrenaline rushing.

Following the loss, Fijians around the world reacted with subdued joy.

The diehards have mixed feelings about the team’s progression.

The Portugal game was Fiji’s to lose, said Alipate Vakabua, but then again it’s rugby.

“I guess overconfidence got the better of us."

“We beat Australia, created history, there on we slept at the switch, if we don’t switch it on against England its lights out for Fiji.”

“No sugar coating, Fiji lost and that’s all is all to it,” said Ronald Kumar.

“Play with the same mentality and we say goodbye to the World Cup.”

“We will beat England and we will continue creating history, faith moves mountains,” Joshua Mata said.

Game of brave hearts

Rugby is not a myth, it's a game of brave heart, as is tactical and ferocious.

It takes a team to win games, flashes of individual brilliance come into play but by chance, otherwise it’s about the pack.

Inoke Ratulevu said Fiji committed most errors and they learnt a hard lesson in the way of loss.

“Let’s be realistic here, Fiji played catch-up today, next week they need to be on the forefoot or else.

"Take it on the chin and move on for the better, we need to remember we’re a Tier 2 team, yet we’re in the quarterfinals no small feat.”

Analysts weigh

Jamie Heaslip and Darren Cave of RTE Sport said one would be mad to believe Fiji would go through to the semifinals, predicting England victory.

"England will display class rugby. Fiji will have to come out with a better strategy, unlike their games against George and Portugal.”

“Os Lobos have been the surprise package in France in recent weeks, and while many thought they’d give Fiji problems, few expected a result of this magnitude.

“Fiji will need to bring its top game if they’re to win and proceed to the semifinals.Time is the master.”

The Flying Fijians defeated England for the first time in their history with a sensational 30-22 win at Twickenham in Round 4 of the Summer Nations Series.

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