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Portugal secure historic win, Fiji reach last eight

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Fiji confirmed a Rugby World Cup quarter-final with England – and the elimination of Australia – despite a shock 24-23 loss to Portugal at Stadium de Toulouse in France on Sunday.

Rodrigo Marta’s 78th-minute try was converted by Samuel Marques to make history for Portugal, who were playing in only their second World Cup. Raffaele Storti (45) and Francisco Fernandes (51) had crossed earlier for Portugal, but scores from Levani Botia (48) and Mesake Doge (68) plus three penalties from Frank Lomani looked to have given Fiji the win before Marta produced one of the great World Cup shocks.

Fiji picked up a losing bonus-point which means they finished Pool ‘C’ locked on 11 points with Australia, but progressed to the last eight courtesy of their victory over Eddie Jones’ side earlier in the competition. After a scrappy first half ended 3-3, the game came to life in the second half with Portugal seizing the initiative. The underdogs got the first try in the 45th minute when the impressive Storti, who narrowly missed a try in the first half, chased down a kick into the corner from Pedro Bettencourt and stretched to touch down, with Marques kicking the conversion.

That fired Fiji into life and just three minutes later Botia replied with a powerful run before Lomani levelled the scores with the extras. But Botia was then sent to the sin bin for making head contact and Portugal were quick to make Fiji pay as they powered their way over the line with

Fernandes touching down, Marques making it 17-10. Fiji responded once more, working the ball out for Doge to go over before Lomani tied the scores, and they looked on course for victory as Lomani kicked a couple of penalties in the last 10 minutes to put Fiji 23-17 up.

But there was one last bit of drama as Storti raced towards the line and then fed Marta to finish it off in the 78th minute, with Marques splitting the posts to give Portugal a shock win.

Portugal’s players and fans celebrated wildly, as Fiji’s players slumped to the turf in frustration, but they can look forward to a quarter-final appearance after sending Australia out at the pool stage for the first time in World Cup history.

Fiji will now face England in the quarter-finals in Marseille on October 15 while Portugal exit the competition despite their famous victory. (C.D)

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