Fiji were the second Tier Two nation to beat Tier One side New Zealand in as many weeks as they won 4-2 to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for a third successive time.
The only thing separating the sides at half-time was Api Koroisau’s penalty goal as Fiji led 2-0 at the interval.
Shaun Johnson drew New Zealand level in the second half but Taane Milne added a second penalty goal for Fiji on the hour mark. Fiji secured a narrow 4-2 victory to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for a third successive time.
David Kidwell made just one change to his New Zealand side that fell short to Tier Two nation Tonga last weekend. Tommy Leuluai was replaced by Te Maire Martin.
Mick Potter also made one change to his Fiji outfit that beat Italy last time out. Joe Lovodua came in for James Storer.
Fiji started strong and caught New Zealand off guard when Catalans Dragons star Brayden Wiliame burst through a gap and went over in the fourth minute. However, the try was ruled out by the video referee due to him knocking-on as he reached over the line.
The Bati took the lead in the 13th minute after piling pressure on the Kiwis defence. They were awarded a penalty near the sticks and opted to take the two, with Api Koroisau’s boot making the score 2-0 to Fiji.
Marcelo Montoya came very close to scoring the first try of the game midway through the first half. The Fiji winger dived in at the corner but he was tackled into touch thanks to some great scrambling defence from New Zealand.
HALF TIME: New Zealand 0–2 Fiji.
Shaun Johnson levelled the score four minutes after the restart as he added a penalty goal for the Kiwis, New Zealand 2-2 Fiji.
But just as New Zealand looked to be getting on top in the game, they were dealt a blow when star player Jordan Rapana was sent to the sin bin after committing a professional foul.
While Rapana was off the field, Fiji crossed the whitewash through Wiliame but the referee ruled it out, deeming that it was double movement from the back-rower.
Fiji took the lead once more through Taane Milne. The in-form centre added a penalty goal to put the Bati in a 4-2 advantage after an hour.
The Kiwis threw the kitchen sink at the game in the last 10 minutes but they couldn’t break down a strong Fiji defence, with the Bati securing a 4-2 victory to progress to the semi-finals of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
FULL TIME: New Zealand 2–4 Fiji.
New Zealand – 2
Goals: Johnson 1/1
Fiji – 4
Goals: Koroisau 1/1, Milne 1/1
Loverugbyleague.com MOM: Brayden Wiliame (Fiji)
New Zealand: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 3. Dean Whare, 4. Brad Takairangi, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Te Maire Martin, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Martin Taupau, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 11. Simon Mannering, 12. Joseph Tapine, 13. Adam Blair (C).
Interchange: 14. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 15. Russell Packer, 16. Isaac Liu, 17. Kodi Nikorima.
Fiji: 1. Kevin Naiqama (C), 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Taane Milne, 4. Akuila Uate, 5. Marcelo Montoya, 6. Jarryd Hayne, 7. Henry Raiwalui, 8. Ashton Sims, 9. Api Koroisau, 10. Eloni Vunakece, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Brayden Wiliame, 13. Tui Kamikamica.
Interchange: 14. Joe Lovodua, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Junior Roqica, 17. Ben Nakubuwai.
Referee – Matt Cecchin