Wales eager to gain momentum against Fiji

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The Independent Online

Wales coach Warren Gatland is looking for his team to arrive in the World Cup quarter-finals with "significant momentum."

Gatland has made seven changes for Sunday's Pool D finale against Fiji at Waikato Stadium.



Victory for Wales - and therefore avenging their 2007 World Cup elimination defeat to Fiji in Nantes - would guarantee them a quarter-final place, although a draw or even just a losing bonus point might also be enough.



Wing Shane Williams (thigh strain), full-back James Hook (shoulder) and flanker Dan Lydiate (ankle) were all unavailable for selection.



But the key trio remain on course to make a probable quarter-final appointment with Ireland in Wellington tomorrow week.



"Our focus is entirely on Fiji," Gatland said, aware that the outcome of today's South Africa versus Samoa game could impact on what Wales will need to do this weekend.



"We know if we can win one more game, and win it well, that will give us the best chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup with significant momentum."



Wales beat Namibia 81-7 last Monday - their record World Cup win - and Gatland retains a number of that side, including centre Scott Williams, who scored three tries, full-back Lee Byrne, prop Gethin Jenkins and the entire back-row of Ryan Jones, skipper Sam Warburton and number eight Toby Faletau.



Warburton and Faletau will make their fourth successive starts of the World Cup, meaning they are the only players in Wales' 30-man World Cup squad with 100% appearance records.



Gatland recalls powerful Scarlets wing George North, with Leigh Halfpenny moving to the left flank, and Scott Williams features at outside centre, accommodating midfield partner Jamie Roberts' midfield return.



Half-backs Rhys Priestland and Mike Phillips are reunited, while switches in the pack see call-ups for hooker Huw Bennett, prop Adam Jones and lock Luke Charteris.



Centre Jonathan Davies and lock Alun-Wyn Jones, who started the games against South Africa, Samoa and Namibia, are on bench duty, together with 101 times-capped Stephen Jones and Cardiff Blues scrum-half prospect Lloyd Williams.



"Shane might have been available to us if we had pushed him," Gatland added.



"But he has taken a limited part in training this week and we are happy with the back three we have been able to put on the field for this game.



"Alun-Wyn Jones and Jonathan Davies are two of the players who have started in all three games so far, and so we have freshened things up a little in the second-row and centre, but we have both of them on the bench if we need them."



Wales have reached the quarter-finals just three times in previous World Cup campaigns - 1987, 1999 and 2003.





Wales team to play Fiji in World Cup Pool D at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton on Sunday:

L Byrne (Clermont Auvergne); G North (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), H Bennett (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), R Jones (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).



Replacements: L Burns (Newport Gwent Dragons), P James (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), A Powell (Sale Sharks), L Williams (Cardiff Blues), S Jones (Scarlets), J Davies (Scarlets).



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