Wales hang on to beat high-flying Fiji
MATCH REPORT: Wales survived a couple of nervy final minutes to record a 32-26 win over Fiji in a pulsating encounter in Bordeaux on Sunday.
Dan Biggar set a new Wales Rugby World Cup overall points record as his side held on by the skin of their teeth.
Flyhalf Biggar scored 12 points to move to a tally of 109 and pass Neil Jenkins total of 98 as both sides opened their campaigns in the tournament.
The two teams scored four tries and Fiji could have had a fifth right at the death if Semi Radradra had not spilt the ball – the look of agony on his face tells its own story.
Wales had opened the scoring early on through a Biggar penalty and then a try by Josh Adams in the left-hand corner.
Biggar failed to convert but Wales had an 8-0 lead within 10 minutes – a reverse of the match four years ago when Fiji had begun the brightest and led 12-0.
Fiji, though, struck back in style as captain Waisea Nayacalevu weaved his magic.
The 33-year-old burst through midfield beating one despairing tackle to touch down – fist pumping as he rose from the ground – in the 13th minute.
It was the fourth successive Test he had scored a try, the best run of his career.
The smattering of Fiji fans in the stadium waved their flags in celebration – scrumhalf Frank Lomani converted to pull Fiji to within a point of the Welsh 8-7.
Four minutes later the Fijians were in front after a magical move.
Nayacalevu offloaded brilliantly to centre partner Radradra who had the Welsh defence at sixes and sevens and he fed Lekima Tagitagivalu.
The flank finished it off prompting manic celebrations behind the posts with the replacements joining in.
Lomani converted for 14-8.
The water break could not come quick enough for the Welsh in a very warm Bordeaux.
Biggar refreshed them even more landing another long range penalty for 14-11.
Wales were back in front by the half hour mark Nick Tompkins teeing up fellow veteran George North.
North appearing in his fourth World Cup did a neat sidestep to touch down, aided by Lomani slipping on the greasy surface.
Biggar converted for 18-14.
Fiji came at the Welsh but Eroni Mawi was adjudged to have knocked the ball on as he stretched to touch down over the line – the decision being greeted with boos.
It was all Wales in the early stages of the second-half and their pressure paid off.
Louis Rees-Zammit was able to gather the ball after Vinaya Habosi failed to catch captain Jac Morgan’s crossfield kick and touchdown.
Biggar converted for 25-14 with just over half an hour to play.
The wonderful see-sawing of the game continued apace as Fiji then camped inside the Welsh 22 but came away with nothing – Levani Botia spilling the ball over the line.
They were left to rue that as they suffered two blows within a minute.
Matt Carley having shown admirable restraint finally wielded a yellow card with Tagitagivalu walking off.
The Welsh scored a try almost immediately after he had crossed the touchline, Elliott Dee going over, Biggar converting for 32-14 before himself leaving the stage.
The numbers were evened up as Carley sin-binned Corey Domachowski but with only 12 minutes remaining the task was huge for Fiji.
They managed to cross the line Josua Tuisova touching down – converted by Tela with seven minutes remaining.
The Fijians just would not let up and went over again although they missed the conversion.
Their spirits high they came again and looked all but certain to go over as Radradra was found out wide on his own but to his horror he spilled the ball.
He sank to his knees and sportingly was consoled by a Liam Williams – whose teammates also went onto their haunches too tired to celebrate.
Tries: J.Adams, North, Rees-Zammit, Dee
Cons: Biggar 3
Pens: Biggar 2
Tries: Nayacalevu, Tagitagivalu, Tuisova, Doge
Cons: Lomani 2, Tela
Yellow cards: Lekima Tagitagivalu (Fiji, 65 – cynical foul, collapsing the maul), Corey Domachowski (Wales, 68 – deliberately slowing down the ball)
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Jac Morgan (captain), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Dafydd Jenkins, 20 Tommy Reffell, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Rio Dyer.
Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Mesake Doge, 19 Temo Mayanavanua, 20 Levani Botia, 21 Simione Kuruvoli, 22 Josua Tuisova, 23 Sireli Maqala
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland