A date with Australia is their reward after downing arch-rivals Samoa.
Fiji coach Rick Stone wants to revel in his side’s 22-4 World Cup quarter-final victory over Samoa before worrying about their last-four clash with nine-time winners Australia on Saturday.
Fiji made it to the semi-finals in 2008 before being downed 52-0 by a rampant Kangaroos outfit in Sydney.
This time, Wembley will play host after Wes Naiqama helped himself to 14 points, including one try, with Aaron Groom and Junior Roqica also crossing during the whitewash in a comprehensive win at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday.
The Bati will be overwhelming underdogs for the clash against Australia but Stone — currently assistant coach at Australian NRL side Newcastle Knights — insists it is time to savour a special victory over their Pacific Island rivals.
“There’s so much respect between the two sides (Fiji and Samoa), and that helped in this game which is great, it was a great occasion,” said Stone.
“It was a bit of a grind, but that’s job done as far as I’m concerned, and we had the bonus of a try at the end as well. We had to defend well but we got there.
“Let us get over this one first and we’ll worry about the Aussies next week. Australia are terrific and they have a wealth of players who score a lot of points.
“We have to keep fine-tuning our attack and work on our decision-making and shape. It is not finished for us — it is a work in progress.”
Fiji raced into an early lead after Akuila Uate broke through Samoa’s defence and passed to Groom, who fended off two despairing tackles to score.
An inventive grubber then bamboozled Samoa winger Antonio Winterstein and allowed the opportunistic Naiqama to score and also add the conversion just before the break.
Samoa’s attack finally clicked into gear in the 58th minute after their top try-scorer Winterstein dived in at the corner following an impressive period of quick ball.
Samoa tried to rally in the closing stages but Fiji added gloss to the scoreline when Roqica went between the posts, with Naiqama duly adding the extra points.
It left Samoa head coach Matt Parish to rue another quarter-final exit for the nation, echoing their World Cup exploits of 13 years ago.
“It just didn’t happen for us,” said Parish. “We didn’t play particularly well, but overall I am really happy with the way that the team have played throughout the whole tournament.
“We have improved, but unfortunately we came up against a better team on the day. I said to the boys that the tournament has been one of the best five weeks of my life while I’ve been involved in football.
“The team have handled themselves really well on and off the field and prepared for every game. It has been a pleasure to work with them,” added the Australian.
“We’ve had injuries throughout the World Cup, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse and I certainly don’t want to take anything away from Fiji. They played better, it is as simple as that.”