Wales over-powered a mistake-ridden Fiji to win 66-0 in the final Pool D match at Waikato Stadium on Sunday, the Pacific Islanders’ heaviest World Cup defeat.
The Welsh, comfortably second in their pool behind South Africa, were too strong in a game where Fiji failed to get going, and when they looked like making inroads, they invariably coughed up the ball.
Warren Gatland’s side had gained the bonus point for four tries through skipper Sam Warburton on the stroke of half-time. They are set for a quarter-final against Australia, Italy or Ireland.
Fiji began the second spell 31-0 down, but looked good as they surged forward and were on attack for a number of minutes. They were eventually frustrated when they turned the ball over well inside Wales’ 22m.
Then, on 51 minutes Jamie Roberts benefited from some nice backline inter-play to score his second try of the match. Priestland kept up his good kicking form to convert, and Wales were up 38-0.
Replacement hooker Lloyd Burns got the ball back from a Welsh lineout and burrowed over to make it 43-0 and fellow replacement Stephen Jones converted.
Soon after, Fiji were under the Wales crossbar, but they again lost the ball for the Dragons to clear.
The half-century was brought up in almost comical fashion. Fiji gave up the ball inside the Wales 22 and prop Gethin Jenkins kicked down the field. Fiji wing Albert James Vulivuli got a wicked bounce, which allowed Leigh Halfpenny to pick the ball up and he strolled over the line.
Another replacement, scrum half Lloyd Williams scampered over from a ruck to make it 57-0 and Stephen Jones kept up the accurate Welsh place kicking by converting.
The ninth try of the match was scored by Jonathan Davies at the death and Stephen Jones continued the 100 per cent record of conversion attempts.
The opening phases of the match were notable for some thrusting Wales’ attacks and hard Fiji tackling.
But Fiji were having trouble in the set plays and it was from a botched lineout that Jamie Roberts waltzed through the defence to score in the sixth minute. Rhys Priestland converted.
Fourth RWC try
Wales increased their lead in the 17th minute when Scott Williams scored his fourth try of RWC 2011 when he was on the end of the backline and made it to the line, hugging the left touchline. Priestland converted and Wales were up 14-0.
Four minutes later Fiji’s defensive discipline lost its way with a penalty for offside, converted by Priestland for 17-0.
George North was next on the board in the 32nd minute after an exchange of passes through the backline – one suspicious of being forward.
North raced through the final remnants of the Fiji defence to dot down, Priestland converting.
– This was the first time in World Cup history that Wales secured a whitewash victory. It was also the first time that any Pacific Nation has been blanked in a World Cup match.
– This was Fiji’s biggest defeat in a Rugby World Cup match.
– It was the second whitewash at RWC 2011 after South Africa beat Namibia 87-0.
– Wales have scored 180 points in this tournament and have broken their record for a single World Cup campaign (168 in 2007).
– Six quarter-finalists from 2007 return to the last eight in 2011. The two teams that will not make the knockout phase this time are Scotland and Fiji and the teams that will are Wales and either Ireland or Italy.
– This was the second successive World Cup match by Wales in which both of their starting centres scored at least one try.
– George North equalled the Rugby World Cup record for tries by a teenager (three), a mark that belonged to Joe Roff (AUS).
– Scott Williams’ four tries in this tournament make for the joint second most by a Wales player in a single World Cup. Shane Williams scored six in 2007 and Ieuan Evans also scored four in 1987.
– Wales have kept their opponents scoreless in the first half in two successive World Cup matches.
– Jamie Roberts had scored two tries in his first 34 Tests for Wales and has doubled his career total in one match.
– Wales enjoyed an impeccable night of place kicking with no misses. Rhys Priestland was successful with five conversions and one penalty goal and Stephen Jones was successful with his four conversions.