- Wales are now clear at the top of Pool A, four points ahead of Australia having played one game more
- Warren Gatland’s men extend run to three successive wins
- Fly-half Dan Biggar kicks another perfect game
- Scrum-half Gareth Davies has now touched down four tries in three game
- Fiji score sublime try finished off by Vereniki Goneva
Wales tightened their grip on a quarter-final spot with a win against Fiji but failed to pick up a bonus point. Warren Gatland’s side were put under immense pressure for long periods in the second half by the Pacific Islanders and would have been happy just to get away from Millennium Stadium on Thursday evening with the win.
Wales struggled at the scrum against a ferocious Fijian pack while also finding Fiji’s quick free-flowing offload game troublesome. However, the Reds performed well at the breakdown and carried well to reach the gain-line regularly throughout to come out on top.
An early try from Gareth Davies settled any early game jitters for Wales before hooker Scott Baldwin crossed on the half hour. Two conversions and a penalty from Dan Biggar made up his side’s first half scoring, with the men in red leading 17-6 at the break. Ben Volavola made up Fiji’s total with two well-struck penalties.
Early in the second half though Fiji cut the gap to four points with a converted try from Vereniki Goneva, who finished off a sublime move before Volavola added the extras. Wales came close to touching down a few times after but Fiji defended resolutely with the men in red jerseys only adding to their total through the boot of Biggar, who kicked two further penalties to secure the win, 23-13.
Following some intense early pressure Wales only took only six minutes to open the try-scoring and settle the nerves. The move started with Taulupe Faletau’s quick tap-and-go before Davies finished it, feigning to pass from behind the ruck before darting over between the posts, leaving Biggar with a simple conversion from in front of the posts.
The Fijian scrum then as they did against Australia and England excelled, pushing and shoving until they earned the penalty. Volavola took the chance to get Fiji on the scoreboard, curling his kick through the posts, 7-3.
Biggar then added another three points for Wales from the tee after 20 minutes before Wales touched down their second try just after the half hour. Alun Wyn Jones offloaded to Tyler Morgan, who was held up inches from the line, but Baldwin was there to pick up and force the ball down. Biggar then superbly converted again, 17-3.
Volavola added another three points from the tee for Fiji before half-time with the Pacific Islanders trailing 17-6 at the break.
Fiji though hadn’t read the script and started the second half by opening their try-scoring in sublime fashion.
Alex Cuthbert missed a chance to intercept in the Fijians half and was made to pay as a beautiful, free-flowing move took the flying Fijians from 85m out to right up to and over the Welsh tryline as Goneva thundered across after 48 minutes, with Ben Volavola converting.
But Biggar showed his composure from the tee to score two further penalties for Wales, extending their lead to ten points, 23-13.
Wales then got back in control in the closing stages but couldn’t score the tries that would give them what still could be a crucial bonus point.
What comes next
Wales can guarantee they will finish top of the pool if they beat Australia in their final group match at Twickenham a week on Saturday while Fiji will look to ensure they finish off the bottom with a success against Uruguay at Stadium:MK in their last game next Tuesday.
Man of the match- Gareth Davies
The Wales scrum-half was terrific, touching down the opening try to settle any nerves around the stadium and was unlucky not to get a second after the break. The gutsy nine now has four tries in three matches and alongside Biggar has starred for Wales in their so far successful Rugby World Cup campaign.