OITA, 9 Oct – Wales qualified for the quarter-finals after twice coming from behind to see off a fierce Fijian examination that left some question marks over their World Cup credentials on Wednesday.
Winger Josh Adams scored a hat-trick of tries in a pulsating Pool D game at Oita Stadium that also featured four yellow cards and four disallowed tries.
Warren Gatland’s side trailed by 10 points early on – as they did before beating England in 2015 – and also fell behind in the second half before two late tries gave them victory.
“Full respect and credit to Fiji – we saw the best of them at times,” said Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.
Wales will ensure top spot in the pool by beating Uruguay on Sunday, which would set up a quarter-final against France or England back in Oita. But they have conceded eight tries in their three games and skipper Jones said, “We have plenty to work on.”.
Winger Semi Radradra was outstanding for Fiji, and was Player of the Match despite finishing on the losing side. Fiji bow out after looking at times as if they could repeat that famous win in Nantes at RWC 2007.
Wales were stunned after only three minutes as winger Josua Tuisova powered over. Three defenders were unable to stop the man nicknamed ‘The Bus’ and it soon became worse for Gatland’s side after flanker Josh Navidi had a try ruled out.
Fiji scrum-half Frank Lomani also had a try overturned, for a forward pass, but Wales hooker Ken Owens was shown a yellow card for a tip-tackle on Fiji No 8 Viliame Mata in the move.
Full-back Kini Murimurivalu immediately took advantage, proving too strong for the Wales defence to score in the corner after 10 minutes. But outside-half Ben Volavola was again unable to add the extra points.
Those missed conversions proved the difference as Wales finally roared back before the break, taking advantage of Fiji indiscipline.
With second-row Tevita Cavubati sin-binned for a dangerous clear-out, outside-half Dan Biggar produced a superb cross-kick for wing Adams to get Wales on the scoreboard after 17 minutes.
Adams was then denied by a try-saving tackle by Lomani after innumerable replays showed he had a foot in touch, with Fiji again a man down when flanker Semi Kunatani was yellow-carded.
But the Cardiff Blues flier found enough room on the half-hour mark to grab his second try. Biggar again slotted over the conversion from just inside the touch-line.
Fiji responded but Mata was the third player to have a try ruled out – this time for a forward pass – as Wales ended the half with a four-point lead.
If Wales thought they had finally broken Fiji resistance, they were soon proved wrong. Radradra continued to give their defence all sorts of problems and he had a try ruled out for a forward pass.
But after flanker James Davies, making his World Cup bow, was sin-binned on 52 minutes Fiji used their numerical advantage up front to send the Wales pack back-pedalling and referee Jerome Garces awarded them a penalty try.
Biggar was then left pole-axed after being clattered into by team-mate Liam Williams twice as they went for a high ball and was taken away for a second Head Injury Assessment (HIA) in successive games.
Rhys Patchell, who kicked 14 points against Australia, replaced him and soon slotted over a long-range penalty to make it 17-17 with Davies still on the sidelines.
Wales regained the lead with one of the tries of the tournament on 61 minutes as centre Jonathan Davies burst through a gap in the Fijian defence, fending off a tackler. He was stopped right on the line but flicked the ball behind him for Adams to gather and touch down in the corner, pictured above, to complete his hat-trick. Adams carried on after treatment but Davies limped off.
Full-back Williams gave Wales some breathing space – and a bonus point – with their fourth try with 10 minutes left after scrum-half Gareth Davies somehow picked up a loose ball and made the break. Patchell converted.
Rugby World Cup Pool D
Match #32 – FULL TIME
WALES 🏴 2️⃣9️⃣ vs 1️⃣7️⃣ 🇫🇯 FIJI
🏴 WALES : 2️⃣9️⃣
Tries: Josh Adams (18′,30′,61′), Liam Williams (69′)
Cons: Dan Biggar (20′,31′)
Pens: Rhys Patchell (57′)
📒 YELLOW CARDS : Ken Owens (8′), James Davies (52′)
🇫🇯 FIJI : 1️⃣7️⃣
Tries: Josua Tuisova (4′), Kini Murimurivalu (9′), Penalty Try (54′)
📒 YELLOW CARDS : Tevita Cavubati (17′), Semi Kunatani (29′)
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RR WORLD RANKINGS – During World Cup the RR Ranking Points are DOUBLED
WAL (on 88.87 points) -vs- FIJI (on 75.68 points) in a RWC match
|Possible Outcome||Rating Point
|WAL win by 1-15 points||0.000||88.87||75.68||No|
|WAL win by more than 15||0.000||88.87||75.68||No|
|result is a draw||2.000||86.87||77.68||No|
|FIJI win by 1-15 points||4.000||84.87||79.68||No|
|FIJI win by more than 15||6.000||82.87||81.68||No|
15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 James Davies, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Aaron Shingler, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Tomos Williams, 22
Rhys Patchell, 23 Owen Watkin
15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Levani Botia, 11 Semi Radradra, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Semi Kunatani, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu (c), 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Samuel Matavesi, 1 Campese Ma’afu
Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Peni Ravai, 19 Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 20 Peceli Yato, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Jale Vatubua, 23 Josh Matavesi
Date: Wednesday, October 9
Venue: Oita Stadium, Oita
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)