Wales survive Fiji's onslaught
MATCH REPORT: Wing Josh Adams scored a sensational hat-trick on Wednesday as Wales booked a World Cup quarter-final place with a 29-17 bonus-point win over Fiji, sending Australia through in the process.
In an end-to-end encounter in Oita, Fiji scored two tries in the first eight minutes playing some trademark free-flowing rugby, but the Six Nations champions pegged them back and a Liam Williams try with 12 minutes left buried the Fijians’ chances.
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The result also guaranteed Australia’s progress to the last eight ahead of their final Pool D game against Georgia on Friday.
But the victory may have come at a high price for Wales with playmaker Dan Biggar apparently knocked out in an aerial clash with team-mate Liam Williams, and Adams limped off with a knee injury after breaking the game open with his third try when the score was deadlocked 17-17.
Fiji produced a flying start with two tries in a dramatic opening, in which a third try was ruled out by a forward pass and Wales went a man down when hooker Ken Owens was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle.
It was the first of four yellow cards as referee Jerome Garces lost patience with repeated fouls.
But as the game wore on the superior quality of the Welsh attack told, and forward passes cost Fiji two more tries.
Although the final scoreline was probably closer than Wales would have liked, and Fiji wing Semi Radradra was named man of the match, the Welsh did out-score Fiji four tries to three.
Fiji end the tournament with only one win, over Georgia, and if they are to finish third in the pool to automatically qualify for the 2023 World Cup, they will need Wales and Australia to beat Uruguay and Georgia respectively in their final group matches.
Fiji rocked Wales from the kick-off to take play up to the shadow of the posts where they won a penalty and opted for a scrum. The ball went wide and Josua Tuisova ran over Adams and Biggar to score.
When a Wales chance to score was ruled out by knock-on, Fiji swept back on attack and were rewarded with a try to Kini Murimurivalu.
The sting was taken out of the Fijian attack when a shoulder charge saw lock Tevita Cavubati join Owens on the naughty chair.
With numbers even on the field, Biggar engineered Wales’ first points with a well-weighted cross-kick to Adams who scored in the corner.
After the referee’s warning about fouls, Fiji flanker Semi Kunatani was caught offside and sent to the sin-bin and in his absence Wales hit the front with Adams’ second try converted by Biggar.
Wales held a 14-10 lead at half-time after Fiji’s chance to hit the front again just before the break was wasted when Ben Volavola’s pass to an unmarked Viliame Mata floated forward.
James Davies was sent off for a deliberate off-side 12 minutes into the second half.
It saw Fiji go for a lineout and when Wales pulled down the subsequent drive it resulted in a penalty try to put Fiji back in front.
A minute after Rhys Patchell took the field for the injured Biggar he landed a 42-metre penalty to level the scores.
A slick back-of-the-hand pass from Jonathan Davies then sent Adams over for his third try to restore the lead for Wales before Liam Williams scored Wales’ bonus-point try.
Moment of the match: Josua Tuisova’s try in the fouth minute. The wing activated beast mode and burst past four defenders for a before scoring the corner.
Villain of the match: Both teams’ lack of discipline
Man of the match: There were a few players who put up their hand for the award. In the Wales camp hat-trick hero Josh Adams was fine form while Liam Williams put on a brave display when it came to defense. For Fiji, Semi Radradra had an impressive 80 minutes, however, our nod goes to Fiji wing Josua Tuisova, who was brutal on attack. He made multiple breaks and beat more than a handful of defenders.
Tries: Tuisova, Murimurivalu, Penalty try
Con: Penalty try does not require a conversion
Tries: Adams 3, Williams
Cons: Biggar 2, Patchell
Yellow cards: Ken Owens (Wales, 7 – Tip tackle), Tevita Cavubati (Fiji, 16 – Shoulder Charge), Semi Kunatani (Fiji, 28 – Deliberate offside), James Davies (Wales, 52 – Foul play)
Wales: 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 (captain), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhs Carre, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Aaron Shingler, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Owen Watkin.
Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Lepani Botia, 11 Semi Radradra, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Semi Kunatani, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain), 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.
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)