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Dublin: 20 °C Monday 1 June, 2020

Wales secure quarter-final berth after bruising battle against Fiji

A sickening blow to Dan Biggar’s head will pose an injury concern for Warren Gatland’s side.

Wales 29

Fiji 17

A JOSH ADAMS hat-trick helped Wales to claim a bonus-point win over a sparkling Fiji side whose World Cup is now over.

Fiji’s third loss in four outings means that both Warren Gatland’s men and Australia are now qualified for the quarter-final stage, with Wales set to take top spot if they avoid defeat to Uruguay this weekend.

In an end-to-end encounter in Oita, Fiji scored two tries in the first eight minutes playing some trademark free-flowing rugby to set up powerful finishes for Josua Tuisova and Kini Murimurivalu.

Though Fiji overturned a 14-10 half-time deficit with a penalty try, the Grand Slam-winners pegged them back again through Adams and a Liam Williams try with 12 minutes left buried the Pacific nation’s chances.

wales-v-fiji-pool-d-2019-rugby-world-cup-oita-stadium Source: David Davies

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.

japan-rugby-wcup-wales-fiji Source: Aaron Favila

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.

Eoin Toolan and Murray Kinsella join Gavan Casey to give an in-depth breakdown of where Ireland’s play stacks up against the contenders in Japan, and look into why New Zealand and England are primed for World Cup success.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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