Player Ratings: The Path of survival
OPINION: Despite being given a real scare by Fiji in the opening 15 minutes of both halves, Wales were able to record a 29-17 victory over the Islanders in Oita and keep control of Pool D.
Warren Gatland’s side were at close to full-strength for the encounter – perhaps not too surprising given their history against the Pacific Islands – with just two changes from the side that defeated Australia in Tokyo. Although there were periods of the game where Fiji looked as though they might spring an upset, it was Wales who were able to remain composed and see out the contest.
Alex Shaw rates the Welsh players
- Liam Williams – 8
The full-back ran a couple of nice lines that brought territory gains for Wales, as well as being a very reliable aerial competitor at the back. He didn’t necessarily enjoy the busiest of games on the counter-attack, though that was seemingly game plan-related, as Wales opted not to create too many broken field situations. Fully-deserved his late try.
14. George North – 6
One of the quieter games that North will have in a Wales jersey, as the majority of the side’s attacking phase play moved to the left-wing. He held up well defensively against the explosive Semi Radradra on a couple of occasions, also.
- Jonathan Davies – 7
The outside centre grew into the game and after a couple of early errors and tentative moments, linked play well with the left-wing, made the right decisions in defense and even provided a deft kicking threat when Fiji rushed up and left space in behind. His carry and offload for Josh Adams’ try proved pivotal.
- Hadleigh Parkes – 5.5
Parkes was physical in his defence of Fiji’s power midfielders and had a couple of incisive forays as a ball-carrier himself. His usual composure to be aware of his support and link with them wasn’t always there, though. As a result, he coughed up a few turnovers.
- Josh Adams – 6.5
It was a rollercoaster ride of a game for Adams, who started the game by missing the key tackles for Fiji’s first two tries, as well as knocking on in a two-on-one. He managed to redeem himself with two first half tries, however, which brought Wales back into the game. The wing brought himself into credit with a hat-trick try in the second half, supporting Davies’ break.
- Dan Biggar – 7
The fly-half brought some valuable control when Fiji made their electric start and he nailed two tough conversions from the sideline. His defence was also strong, although he unfortunately had to leave the pitch after 55 minutes after being part of an aerial collision with Williams.
- Gareth Davies – 6.5
With Wales keen not to open up the game too much and play into Fiji’s hands, Davies’ usual game was restricted somewhat. He brought important tempo when opportunities arose, though, and Wales were able to capitalise. His trademark darts around the fringe were limited.
- Wyn Jones – 5
The loosehead had some struggles against Manasa Saulo at the scrum early in the first half. He had a brief reprieve when Fiji were reduced to 14 players, though the pressure came back on strongly in the second half.
- Ken Owens – 5.5
The Scarlet connected with all three of his lineouts and created a foundation for Wales, though his yellow card for a tip tackle hurt his side in the first half. He defended resolutely around the fringes, without impacting the game offensively too much.
- Tomas Francis – 5.5
Francis provided a relatively solid platform at the set-piece, most notably when Fiji lost Tevita Cavubati to the sin bin. He probably didn’t have the impact he would have liked outside that 10-minute period, however, both in the loose and at the scrum.
- Jake Ball – 5.5
Ball had a couple of moments where he exerted his physicality on Fiji, though they were few and far between. Wales weren’t able to disrupt Fiji’s lineout, maul or the speed of ball they were able to generate at the contact area.
- Alun Wyn Jones – 6
Not the most influential game that Jones will ever have for Wales, and the physical arm wrestle with Fiji’s ball-carriers and tacklers was one that he both won and lost during the 80 minutes in Oita. One thing which did not vary was the impressive work rate that he put in on the defensive side of the ball but Fiji’s tempo and physicality was tough to contain.
- Josh Navidi – 6.5
After missing a couple of tackles in the first half, Navidi looked more comfortable in the second. He ripped the ball from Semi Kunatani in one tackle and frequently led the defensive line.
- James Davies – 5.5
A mixed bag for Davies who was influential in defence with his work rate and was able to get his hands on the ball at the breakdown on a couple of occasions. It was mitigated by his offside penalty that led to the try for Josua Tuisova and a carry where he isolated himself and was turned over. Repeated offences led to a second half yellow card.
- Ross Moriarty – 6.5
Physically grew into the game after a strong 25m carry off the base of the scrum. He helped even up the battle of the back rows on the gain-line, which Fiji had a clear advantage in early in the game.
- Elliot Dee – 6
The hooker connected with three of his four lineouts, although his impact in the loose was limited.
- Rhys Carre – 6.5
A late cameo, though he seemed to provide a more solid anchor on the loosehead, admittedly against Fiji’s second-string front row.
- Dillon Lewis – 6
Like Carre, Lewis kept the set-piece as a solid foundation follow his arrival.
- Aaron Shingler – 6
Took a lineout after his late arrival, though there was little time to do much else.
- Aaron Wainwright – n/a
Really wasn’t able to influence the game following his arrival, as the game became disjointed and Wales saw out the win.
- Tomos Williams – 6
Kept up the tempo after Davies moved to the wing, with Adams limping from the field.
- Rhys Patchell – 6
Patchell made and missed a kick apiece and had some sharp passes that help the Welsh back line find space.
- Owen Watkin – 7
The centre made a couple of key tackles and defensive involvements after replacing Davies and made the carry that teed up Williams’ try.’
By Alex Shaw, Rugbypass