Player Ratings: Fortunate
OPINION: Wayne Pivac’s men faced the ignominy of dropping out of the top 10 in World Rugby’s ranking if they lost to Fiji.
The two teams, who will be in the same Rugby World Cup pool again in 2023, last met in the pool stages of the RWC in Japan in 2019.
This was a super tight affair, a contest where for large parts Wales failed to put away a 14 and at times 13-man Fiji. The scoreline flattered the men in red greatly, with Fiji no doubt left wondering what if after the early red card.
Ian Cameron rates the Wales players:
15 LIAM WILLIAMS – 8.5
Very busy from the get-go, even if he didn’t have to dodge any pitch invaders. A master sweeper, Williams skills were called on again and again and he wasn’t found wanting. Switched into attack mode when needed and was behind many a Welsh counterpunch. His try was well deserved.
14 ALEX CUTHBERT – 7.5
It’s been four years since Cuthbert last played for Wales and his return got off to a shaky start, with a few fumbles. Grew into the game after that, finding holes in the Fiji defence before accelerating into them. Finished his 66th minute try like the Cuthbert of old – a poignant moment.
13 NICK TOMPKINS – 7.5
A late call-up after Josh Adams’ late cry off, he was given a welcome to the game care of a bump off from Fijian bad boy Eroni Sau. A typically busy performance after that, both in defence and attack, a late break setting up Liam Williams to put some shine on the scoreline.
12 JOHNNY WILLIAMS – 6
Another Welshman that felt the full force of a Fijian defender on more than one occasion, including a pretty needless red card shot to the head from Eroni ‘The Sledgehammer’ Sau. A few decent catch and pass contributions after that. Solid.
11 LOUIS REES-ZAMMIT – 8
Didn’t get much by way of anything approximating decent ball in the first half. Very unlucky when being caught in touch in a move that set up a Biggar crossfield kick that he caught and scored. His 73rd minute chip and collect – which was performed at about 10 metres a second – was the sort of box office moment that makes the youngster such a treat to watch.
10 DAN BIGGAR – 5
An infuriatingly mixed performance from Biggar. Caught napping for Fiji’s opening try. Kicked beautifully out of hand one minute, before missing his mark the next. His incessant chat with referee Nic Berry, if anything, seemed to harm as opposed to help Wales’ cause.
9 KIERAN HARDY – 5.5
Some of his box kicks weren’t as accurate as he might have liked and at times in the first half where it felt like Wales weren’t in full control at the base. Showed both his athletic and decision-making abilities to dart in under the posts to punish a 13-man Fiji. His snipping game was on point.
1 RHYS CARRÉ – 7
Some big, timely defensive hits from the loosehead. Scrummed effectively.
2 RYAN ELIAS – 7.5
Was at hand to claim a 5 pointer off a trundling Welsh maul that Fiji’s had no answer. Scored a near-identical try in the 62nd minute. Carried efficiently in narrow channels throughout and his lineout throwing was solid.
3 WILLGRIFF JOHN – NA
A late call up for Tomas Francis. Went off for a HIA after just six minutes and didn’t return.
4 WILL ROWLANDS – 6.5
At the coalface eeking out modest metres against a massive Fijian pack. Stayed in the fight.
5 ADAM BEARD – 7.5
Played a pivotal role in securing the ball for Wales’ opening try. His Go0Go Gadget arms are a real nuisance for opposition mauls. Bagged two turnovers, but against that was penalised twice.
6 ELLIS JENKINS – 8
Another incredibly street smart performance from Wales’ man of the moment who demonstrated Mensa level rugby IQ across the 80 minutes. Making himself very difficult to drop.
7 THOMAS YOUNG – 6
Showed his abilities as a linkman with Wales’ back division on several occasions. Missed a few too many tackles.
8 TAINE BASHAM – 6
Didn’t quite see the ball carrying that has marked out his Autumn campaign to date, although he was in thick of things in the finals minutes. Conceded two penalties.
REPLACEMENTS – 8
Dillon Lewis had a decent shift bar the odd fumble, while Tomos Williams influence gave more shape to Wales’ at times nebulous attack. Seb Davies continues to impress and Willis Halaholo brought some menace in attack.
By Ian Cameron, Rugbypass