A full review of Wales' win over Fiji at the Millennium Stadium
This World Cup is throwing up some thoroughly entertaining matches. Wales looked on course for a four-try bonus point after dominating the first half against Fiji, but the islanders hit back strongly in the second half and in the end the home side were lucky to come away with a win. Both sides found themselves on the wrong side of the referee, particularly at the breakdown, and as the game broke up in the second period they were plenty of harem-scarem moments. Wales probably paid the price for not tightening up the game, instead playing into Fiji’s hands by keeping the ball in play and kicking loosely. In nine days Wales will find out how crucial that missed bonus point is.
Fast & furious – This match was played at a ferocious pace from the off and both teams were happy to run it from deep, counter-attacking from turnover ball and looking for holes in the defensive line. Wales full-back Matthew Morgan proved the most elusive player on the pitch, seemingly able to wriggle out of tackles with ease and finding himself in space, where he could use his footwork to good effect. Asaeli Tikoirotuma was a danger man for Fiji and launched some great attacks with his runs, particularly in the second half.
Hands stand – There was slick handling all over the pitch. Dan Biggar’s delayed pass to Gethin Jenkins, who then popped the ball on to Alun Wyn Jones, helped create Scott Baldwin’s try. Leone Nakarawa was looking for the offload as usual and is so hard to stop at full tilt while Ben Volavola looked more comfortable on the big stage than he had in Fiji’s first two games, his distribution impressing.
The 50 club – Both Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau won their 50th caps for Wales, while Akapusi Qera did the same for Fiji. The Welsh pair have been mainstays in their country’s back row for the past four years and are among the team’s most consistent performers, both with an incredibly high work-rate. Fiji captain Qera, too, is a tireless performer for his country and proved a real nuisance for Wales at the breakdown.
Silence is golden – How pleasant to see Fiji’s pre-match Cibi respected by the Millennium Stadium crowd. The fans went respectfully quiet during the war dance and then cheered at the end. Let’s hope for more of the same during the rest of the World Cup.
Black boots – Orange, yellow, green – these days it’s seems any colour but black is favoured when it comes to a rugby player’s boots.
Wales scrum – As against England on Saturday, Wales found themselves on the wrong end of refereeing decisions at scrum time. It’s not a situation they would have expected to find themselves in against Fiji and they will need to sort those problems out before facing Australia.
Whistle stop – Both teams were penalised heavily in the second half for playing the ball while off their feet at the breakdown and this disrupted the flow of the game. There also seem to be a few inconsistencies between referees at this World Cup, which is far from ideal.
18 – The number of offloads made by Fiji, twice as many as Wales.
124 – The number of metres made by Matthew Morgan, more than any other player.
50 – The number of tackles missed by the two teams, 27 by Wales and 23 by Fiji.
Wales: M Morgan (J Hook 71); A Cuthbert (L Williams 21-27), T Morgan, J Roberts, G North; D Biggar (R Priestland 73), G Davies; G Jenkins (A Jarvis 67), S Baldwin (K Owens 55), T Francis (S Lee 50), B Davies (L Charteris 14-27, 64), AW Jones, D Lydiate (J Tipuric 70), S Warburton (capt), T Faletau.
Tries (2): G Davies, Baldwin. Cons: Biggar 2. Pens: Biggar 3.
Fiji: M Talebula; T Nagusa, V Goneva (J Matavesi 71), L Botia (K Murimurivalu 75), A Tikoirotuma; B Volavola, N Kenatale (H Seniloli 71); C Ma’afu (P Ravai 77), S Koto (V Veikoso 75), M Saulo (L Atalifo 77), T Cavubati (N Soqeta 70), L Nakarawa, D Waqaniburotu (M Ravulo 70), A Qera (capt), N Talei.
Try: Goneva. Con: Volavola. Pens: Volavola 2.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Man of the Match: Gareth Davies