Wales survive late Fiji fightback to win opener-ZoomTech News

Fiji couldn’t repeat their 2007 World Cup win towards Wales
Wales (18) 32
Tries: Adams, North, Rees-Zammit, Dee Cons: Biggar 3 Pens: Biggar 2
Fiji (14) 26
Tries: Nayacalevu, Tagitagivalu, Tuisova, Doge Cons: Lomani 2, Tela

Wales held out amid a dramatic late Fiji fightback to edge a fascinating World Cup opener in Bordeaux.

Wales led 32-14 via tries from Josh Adams, George North, Louis-Rees-Zammit and Elliot Dee.

Fiji responded with efforts from Waisea Nayacalevu and Lekima Tagitagivalu, earlier than Josua Tuisova and Mesake Doge scored late tries to fret Wales.

Centre Semi Radradra then dropped the ball with the Wales attempt line at his mercy within the last play of the sport.

The great eight-try spectacle evoked recollections of when Fiji defeated Wales 38-34 in Nantes in 2007, however this time the lads in pink had been those celebrating on the finish with fly-half Dan Biggar named man of the match after kicking 12 factors.

Wales made a outstanding 248 tackles in comparison with Fiji’s 70.

Victory handed Wales a lift of their bid for quarter-final qualification after Australia defeated Georgia within the Pool C opening match on Saturday.

Wales face Portugal in Good subsequent Saturday earlier than additional group video games towards Australia in Lyon on 24 September and Georgia in Nantes 13 days later.

Acquainted foes

This was the fifth successive time the 2 sides had met within the World Cup, with Gatland’s facet triumphing in 2011, 2015 and 2019.

Gatland was starting his fourth World Cup in cost with Wales after additionally main Eire within the 1999 match.

Wales had misplaced 26 video games since 2019, essentially the most defeats they’ve ever suffered between World Cups, with Gatland retuning to exchange Wayne Pivac in December 2022.

Just one win got here in a fifth-place end within the 2023 Six Nations, which was additionally affected by potential Wales participant strike motion over contractual points earlier than the England recreation, with that menace finally averted.

Gatland acknowledged this match represented a clear slate following brutal health coaching camps in Switzerland and Turkey. The Wales boss predicted his gamers would do one thing particular and shock folks in France.

Fiji got here into the match because the highest-ranked facet in Pool C after rising to seventh place following a formidable victory over England at Twickenham. This was three locations increased than Wales.

The Fijians had misplaced fly-half Caleb Muntz as a result of damage forward of this recreation, with Teti Tela taking his place, whereas captain Jac Morgan was main Wales on his World Cup debut as 10 gamers within the 23-man squad featured for the primary time within the match.

Storming begin for Wales, however Fiji bounce again

Wales had spoken about doing the fundamentals proper, with locks Adam Beard and Will Rowlands making a storming begin.

Beard took a towering catch from the kick-off and Rowlands compelled a turnover penalty which Biggar slotted over.

Centre North, who was turning into solely the fifth Welshman to play in a fourth World Cup, then sliced via the Fiji defence.

The ball was moved left and Adams crossed for one more World Cup rating after ending the 2019 match in Japan because the main try-scorer with seven.

Wales may need been buoyed by their opening begin, however they had been additionally responsible of over-playing on two events in their very own half and had been punished by Fiji captain Nayacalevu.

He galvanised his facet because the centre powered via the tried deal with from Toulon team-mate Biggar and flanker Aaron Wainwright, to dash away with Frank Lomani changing.

Nayacalevu and fellow centre Radradra had been the catalysts for the second rating with searing midfield breaks to launch flanker Tagitagivalu.

Wales regroup

The primary water break, an idea Gatland was not eager on as he backed his facet’s health and needed to maintain the sport transferring, got here on the proper time for a shell-shocked Wales, who managed to regroup.

Biggar slotted over a second penalty shortly after the resumption, earlier than North crossed following an intricate transfer with fellow centre Nick Tompkins as Wales once more capitalised on Fiji’s suspect midfield defence. Biggar transformed as Wales regained the lead.

Fiji prop Eroni Mawi was denied a attempt after he misplaced possession over the Wales line. Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies was compelled to depart the sphere for a head damage evaluation after a excessive deal with from Fiji wing Selestino Ravutaumada that solely yielded a penalty and never a yellow card.

Wales held out for an 18-14 half-time lead as Biggar left the sphere fuming along with his team-mates for not kicking the ball off the sphere earlier.

Davies handed his evaluation and returned for the second half with Fiji lock Isoa Nasilasila freely giving an affordable penalty from the restart after taking out Wainwright, however Biggar missed the kick.

Wales retained the stress and following a Tompkins break, captain Morgan produced a looking cross kick to arrange Rees-Zammit’s rating, which Biggar transformed.

A elegant piece of play from full-back Liam Williams with an audacious flick was adopted by a bone-crunching deal with from Adams on Ravutaumada.

This created a Wales penalty and lifted the gamers, the replacements’ bench and followers within the stadium.

A raft of replacements included Tommy Reffell approaching for Wales quantity eight Taulupe Faletau, who had began regardless of lacking the three warm-up matches in August due to a calf damage.

Fiji pressurised Wales as they introduced on centre Tuisova and flanker Levani Botia, who misplaced the ball over the Wales line.

A thundering Reffell deal with laid the platform for Biggar to provide a looking kick that gave Wales the attacking platform for the bonus-point fourth attempt.

After Tagitagivalu was proven a yellow card for flattening a Wales rolling maul, alternative hooker Dee drove over, with Biggar’s conversion proving his final act earlier than limping off the sphere.

Fiji fightback in useless

The edges had been evened up when alternative prop Corey Domachowski was proven a yellow card for knowledgeable foul after Wales had been warned for persistent offending.

Fiji took benefit, with Tuisova powering over to arrange an enthralling ending. Wales discovered themselves beneath incessant late stress as Gatland’s facet averted one other yellow card within the closing moments.

Doge was denied a attempt earlier than he finally burrowed over, and a free Liam Williams kick gave Fiji the platform for one last attacking try.

They appeared to have labored the overlap completely for Radradra, however the former Bristol participant suffered heartbreak when he appeared a sure scorer, spilling possession and lacking out on a attempt that might have steered Fiji to victory.

Either side fell to their knees, with Wales as relieved as they had been happy to emerge victorious following a breathless end.

Wales are second in Pool C after a bonus-point win over Fiji


Fiji: Droasese; Ravutaumada, Nayacalevu (capt), Radradra, Habosi; Tela, Lomani; Mawi, Matavesi, Tagi, Nasilasila, Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Tuisue, Tagitagivalu, Mata.

Replacements: Ikanivere, Ravai, Doge, Mayanavanua, Botia, Kuruvoli, Tuisova, Maqala.

Wales: L Williams; Rees-Zammit, North, Tompkins, Adams; Biggar, G Davies; G Thomas, Elias, Francis, Rowlands, Beard, Wainwright, Morgan (capt),

Replacements: Dee, Domachowski, D Lewis, D Jenkins, Reffell, T Williams, Costelow, Dyer.

Referee: Matthew Carley (England).

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