Wales put aside a disappointing year of results to hang on and edge Fiji 32-26 in a thriller on Sunday to give themselves every chance of advancing to the quarter-finals at the Rugby World Cup.
It might have only been their opening game in Pool C but the contest against the Fijians was seen as key to Wales’ hopes in the tournament in France offering them redemption after losing six of eight internationals in 2023, and breathing life into a beleaguered squad. Victory was almost stolen at the end by the Pacific islanders who were seeking to fight back from an 18-point deficit and could have completed an unlikely comeback but they knocked on with the tryline at their mercy.
Both teams scored four tries in a game full of line breaks, exciting running and bruising clashes that had the crowd on the edge of their seats, especially at the end as Fiji fought back from 32-14 down. Josh Adams, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit and Elliot Dee crossed over for Wales with Dan Biggar adding two penalties and three conversions while Waisea Nayacalevu, Lekima Tagitagivalu, Josua Tuisova and Mesake Doge were Fiji’s try scorers.
Gatland sees little wrong with Biggar’s blast at North
Wales coach Warren Gatland said he saw little wrong with Dan Biggar’s outburst at team mate George North during Sunday’s thrilling 32-26 victory over Fiji in their Pool C opener at the Rugby World Cup.
Flyhalf Biggar gestured to the stands and berated North for not kicking the ball into touch to bring on the halftime break when Wales were under pressure in their own 22 and holding a narrow 18-14 lead.
“I didn’t have a problem with it. It’s about making people accountable,” said Gatland.
“There’s nothing wrong with players in terms of challenging each other. We want that as part of the group so that everyone is accountable.
“For me, that peer pressure is huge in terms of that and taking responsibility. Those sort of criticism aren’t personal. We talk about it being a point of care.
“It’s about the team getting better and individuals getting better because we need to be comfortable with being critical.”
Until next time
Next up for Wales is a clash with Portugal which takes place on Saturday 16th. Fiji must regroup quickly as they face another huge game against Australia next Sunday, September 17th.
Wales edge out Fiji in nerve-shredding World Cup thriller in Bordeaux
Fiji were expected to provide ferocious opposition in Bordeaux, and they did not disappoint, but Wales ultimately claimed a fourth successive World Cup win against them in nerve-shredding fashion.
It was tense throughout, especially when Fiji scored twice in the last seven minutes and Wales had to dig deep during a frenzied finale when Fiji centre Semi Radradra knocked on close to the line in the game’s last play.
Warren Gatland’s team ultimately prevailed through tries from Josh Adams, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit and Elliot Dee, with fly-half Dan Biggar adding two penalties and three conversions in a bonus-point success watched by Welsh Rugby Union patron the Prince of Wales.
Read the full match report below:
The Welsh emerged 32-26 winners in the Pool C clash.
Wales head coach, Warren Gatland speaking after the game
“Delighted with the win but frustrated with the last 15 minutes. We’ll need a thorough review to have a look at that but we just made some dumb decisions on certain things in terms of discipline and penalties when we were in control of the game.
“That’s the disappointing aspect but delighted about the win. We are that are still building so there will be a lot of learnings from today and I think we’ll get better as the tournament goes on.
“We’ve spoken about the issues that happened in the Six Nations. The time that we had together as a squad has been invaluable in terms of preparation. That’s been a real plus.”
Welsh captain, Jac Morgan speaking after the game:
“I thought it was a great game. We dug in deep in that first half when our discipline let us down as well as a couple of errors. We let Fiji into the game and full credit - when they have ball in hand they put a lot of pressure on us. But the boys dug deep, especially in our defensive efforts.
On the defensive display at the end: “We can take a lot of pride in that. We dug in deep and we stuck together. We knew they were going to keep on coming and we just had to keep defending and working hard for each other.”
FULL-TIME: Wales 32-26 Fiji
The contrasting emotions at full-time. Nick Tompkins celebrates, while Semi Radradra looks on at the bouncing ball that evaded him in the final moments of the game:
FULL-TIME: Wales 32-26 Fiji
The Welsh players celebrate as the Fijians sink to their knees. They put on a stellar display and a brilliant fightback late on but they’ve just fallen short.
FULL-TIME: Wales 32-26 Fiji
Fiji pour players forward with the final play of the game, sending the Welsh defence left and right as they go in search of the winning try.
The Welsh defence is at sixes and sevens as the ball goes out to Radradra on the left wing with acres of space ahead of him...but it’s knocked on! The bouncing ball isn’t controlled and with that the full-time whistle goes.
Somehow, some way Wales have survived for a massive opening-week win against Fiji.
Wales 32-26 Fiji, 80 mins
The clock goes red but on they play. Liam Williams’ kick goes out on the full and Fiji have a lineout and another chance to move up the pitch.
TRY! Wales 32-26 Fiji, (Doge, 79 mins)
The pressure tells again and Fiji have another! From the penalty, Doge crashes over from close range and this time it’s given. The conversion is missed so the the deficit is six.
A minute remaining to find another try...
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