Wales book their quarter-final place with a bonus-point win over Fiji
2019 Rugby World Cup: Wales 29-17 Fiji
Played – 12
Wales wins – 10
Fiji wins – 1
Draws – 1
Did You Know?
- Alun Wyn Jones won his 140th cap (Wales and Lions Test appearances) against Fiji, so overtook George Gregan to move into fourth in the all-time most-capped player list. He is now one behind Brian O’Driscoll, two behind Sergio Parisse and eight behind Richie McCaw.
- Wales have never lost a Rugby World Cup pool match when leading at half-time.
- Wales have now scored six hat-tricks in World Cups: Ieuan Evans 4 v Canada (87); Glen Webbe 3 v Tonga (87); Gareth Thomas 3 v Japan (95); Scott Williams 3 v Namibia (11); Cory Allen 3 v Uruguay (15); Josh Adams 3 v Fiji (19).
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In A Nutshell
A penalty try, a hat-trick, four yellow cards – there was plenty going on in this match.
Fiji were electric at times, with Semi Radradra at his elusive best, but Wales managed to hold off the waves of attackers in white in the second half to book their place in the quarter-finals. It’s now a case of whether they can top Pool D – next up it’s Uruguay on Sunday.
Warren Gatland had talked pre-match about how well Wales had been starting matches at this World Cup, but it was the opposite here. They seemed to sit back in defence and give Fiji space, allowing the islanders to rack up a ten-point lead in as many minutes.
Josua Tuisova kicked things off by barrelling his way through three Wales defenders – Josh Adams, Dan Biggar and Josh Navidi – to score in the corner.
Then a few minutes later Fiji attacked down the right-hand side again and Kini Murimurivalu contorted his body into various angles to ground the ball on the line despite being faced with a number of Welsh defenders.
There was plenty happening in between those two scores too. First Navidi was sent over the line by a George North pass but the try was ruled out by the TMO for an earlier Hadleigh Parkes knock-on. Then Ken Owens was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle on Viliame Mata – had the Fiji No 8 not landed on his back it could have been red.
Wales managed to take a little more control of the game and when Tevita Cavubati was yellow-carded for a shoulder charge at a ruck, they scored a try from the resulting penalty. Dan Biggar found touch in the Fiji 22, they worked through the phases from the lineout and then Biggar’s cross-field kick was plucked from the air by Adams to score in the corner.
They used their one-man advantage to put on pressure up front by opting for scrums from a series of penalties and not long after Cavubati had returned, Semi Kunatani was sent to take his place in the sin-bin for an offside offence.
Wales attacked again from their scrum platform, using a set move from the base to make ground before spreading the ball wide. Quick hands between Biggar-Liam Williams-Jonathan Davies-Adams and the wing was over for his second. With Biggar’s conversions they were leading 14-10.
Fiji showed more flashes of their attacking threats before the break but Wales weathered the storm. Could they do the same in the second period?
The second half started similarly to the first with Fiji in the ascendency. Radradra became more prominent, continually making ground with ball in hand, and when James Davies was sin-binned for slowing the ball down after one such break, Fiji capitalised from the ensuing penalty.
Having found touch five metres out, Cavubati won the lineout at the back, their drive kicked into gear fast and referee Jerome Garces awarded a penalty try for Wales collapsing the maul.
Soon after came a nasty aerial collision between Liam Williams and Biggar. A miscommunication saw them both leap for the ball and the fly-half came off worse. Rhys Patchell arrived in his place and kicked a long-range penalty to level the scores with 20 minutes to go.
Then Wales showed some flair of their own. Jonathan Davies powered through the Fiji defensive line and somehow offloaded in a tackle close to the line to find Adams. The wing managed to stay in the air long enough as he dived for the corner to ground the ball before going into touch.
Adams was involved again as Wales secured the bonus point. After his initial run, he offloaded to Ross Moriarty then Gareth Davies took the ball on before passing to Liam Williams inside him and the full-back scored under the posts.
Job done, quarter-final place secured and expect to see a few changes to the Wales line-up for Sunday’s match against Uruguay.
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Semi Radradra was superb again but purely because we gave him the award after Fiji’s match against Georgia, we’ve opted for Josh Adams. He had a torrid first ten minutes, not only being bowled over as Fiji ran in those early tries but knocking the ball on when he could have had a clear run down the wing. Yet he recovered to score a hat-trick and troubled the Fijian defence whenever he had ball in hand. There were a couple of other occasions he crossed the line only for the try to be ruled out by the TMO and he played a part in setting up the bonus-point score for Liam Williams.
Wales coach Warren Gatland: “We knew Fiji would be tough. They’ve got some absolutely world-class athletes and we were disappointed to concede a penalty from the start of the game and they scored off that.
“To be 10-0 down and finish with a bonus-point win, I thought we showed some great character as a side, particularly given how hard and physical it was. We got ourselves back into the game and finished strongly.
Fiji coach John McKee: “We came here with high aspirations and did want to get to the play-offs. We’ve not achieved that, which is disappointing, but having said that the World Cup is a competitive environment and it’s very difficult to get out of the pool phase for any team.
“For me, the team can come away with their heads held high after that performance today. It’s pleasing to get the opportunity on the world stage to show what this team is capable of.”
Wales: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies (Owen Watkin 63), Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams (Tomos Williams 71); Dan Biggar (Rhys Patchell 56), Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones (Rhys Carre 71), Ken Owens (Elliot Dee 67), Tomas Francis (Dillon Lewis 71), Jake Ball (Aaron Shingler 71), Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Josh Navidi, James Davies (Elliot Dee 12-18, Aaron Wainwright 68), Ross Moriarty.
Tries: Adams 18, 31, 61, L Williams 70. Cons: Biggar 2, Patchell. Pen: Patchell.
Yellow card: Owens 8min, James Davies 53min.
Fiji: Kini Murimurivalu; Josua Tuisova, Waisea Nayacalevu, Levani Botia (Jale Vatubua 32), Semi Radradra; Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani (Nikola Matawalu 67); Campese Ma’afu (Eroni Mawi h-t), Samuel Matavesi (Mesulame Dolokoto 71), Manasa Saulo (Peni Ravai 52), Tevita Cavubati (Api Ratuniyarawa 64), Leone Nakarawa, Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain), Semi Kunatani, Viliame Mata (Peceli Yato 62).
Tries: Tuisova 4, Murimurivalu 9, penalty 54.
Yellow card: Cavubati 16min, Kunatani 29min.
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