Fiji defeated England for the first time in their history, scoring three sensational tries in their 30-22 victory at Twickenham.
Fiji had lost all seven previous match ups since 1988 by an average score of 41-16, but showed great discipline to beat England on Saturday. Allied to their natural flair and power, Fiji finally prevailed.
Jonny May raced over to given England an early lead but what followed will have shaken head coach Steve Borthwick.
Waisea Nayacalevu and Vinaya Habosi touched down to put Fiji in front, and although tries by Marcus Smith and Joe Marchant closed the gap, Simione Kuruvoli delivered the decisive blow to wrap up a historic victory that will create shockwaves for England ahead of the World Cup.
“They’re a really good team now, got some phenomenal athletes,” said captain Courtney Lawes, whose 100th England cap was spoiled. “One on one, they made us look silly.”
“The result was really good,” Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui said. “We have pushed the boys very hard (in training), taking them to the limit, and they’ve never complained.”
The Fijians trailed injury-hit England 8-3 at halftime but never trailed again from the 43rd minute, following their second converted try.
Defeat ended a miserable week for England in which captain Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola were suspended for the opening World Cup game against Argentina on September 9 in Marseille and winger Anthony Watson was ruled out of the tournament by a calf injury.
“The defence wasn’t good enough,” England coach Steve Borthwick said after his sixth loss in nine Tests. “The power of Fiji’s carries, they scored too easily. We slipped off too many tackles.”
There was a small but enthusiastic knot of Fiji supporters among a modest crowd of 56,854 — a testament to England’s poor form that has now seen them lose five of their last six Tests. It was a far smaller attendance than the more than 80,000 that watched world champions South Africa inflict a record 35-7 defeat on New Zealand at Twickenham on Friday.
Fiji’s win is set to spark scenes of mass euphoria back home, a point not lost on the fleet-footed Selestino Ravutaumada.
“I am so proud of the boys, this win is for all the people back home in Fiji,” he said.
Fiji are in a Pool C at the World Cup also featuring Australia and Georgia.
But on their recent form, not only will it be no surprise if they reach the knockout stages, some observers believe they are now more capable than at any time in their history of reaching the semi-finals of a World Cup.
Ravutaumada, however, refused to get carried away, saying simply: “No comment on that one, we will see on the first match against Wales.”
Meanwhile, Ireland were given a mighty scare by Samoa in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture as they held on to defeat the islanders 17-13 in Bayonne.
In other games, Scotland wing Duhan van der Merwe scored two tries as they changed gears in the second half to set off for France with a 33-6 victory over Georgia at Murrayfield.
The visitors led 6-0 at halftime but the floodgates opened for the Scots in the second period as they began to find space in wide areas. Wing Kyle Steyn, flanker Rory Darge and number eight Jack Dempsey also crossed for tries.
Georgia’s points came from the boot of fly-half Luka Matkava. They showed plenty of energy and organisation for the first 40 minutes but could not sustain their effort after the break.
Wing Monty Ioane scored a hat-trick of tries as Italy completed their preparations with a 42-21 victory over Japan in Treviso.
Italy led 17-11 at the break and eventually ran in five tries as scrumhalf Stephen Varney and replacement back Martin Page-Relo also crossed for scores.
Japan did their best to keep pressure on their hosts.
The visitors were full of running and scored through centre Dylan Riley, wing Jone Naikabula and fullback Kotaro Matsushima, but could not avoid a third defeat in four games.
South Africa gave the All Blacks their most emphatic reality check ahead of the Rugby World Cup when claiming a record 35-7 victory at Twickenham on Saturday.