Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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HomeSports NewsFired-up Wales edge feisty Fiji

Fired-up Wales edge feisty Fiji

Wales held on for a four-try victory against a brave Fiji outfit in an exciting World Cup Pool C clash in Bordeaux on Sunday night.

Leading 18-14 at half time, the Welsh Dragons scored two tries either side of the break and Dan Biggar kicked 12 points to beat the Fijians 32-26 at Stade de Bordeaux.

Biggar also set a new Wales World Cup overall points record, taking his tally to 109 and past Neil Jenkins’ total of 98.

Left winger Josh Adams and centre George North crossed the whitewash for Warren Gatland’s charges inside the first 40 minutes, before speedster Louis Rees-Zammit and replacement hooker Elliot Dee dotted down after the restart.

Waisea Nayacalevu, Josua Tuisova Mesake Doge and Lekima Tagitagivalu – who with Wales’ Corey Domachowski saw yellow inside the second 40 – notched a try apiece for the Pacific Islanders, who fought back at the death, but it was too little, too late as the Welsh dug in for the W.

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Wales had opened the scoring early on through a Biggar penalty and then a try by Adams in the left-hand corner.

Biggar failed to convert but the Wales had an 8-0 lead within 10 minutes, a reverse of the match four years ago when Fiji had begun the brightest and led 12-0.

Fiji, though, struck back in style as captain Nayacalevu weaved his magic. The 33-year-old burst through midfield beating one despairing tackle to touch down fist pumping as he rose from the ground in the 13th minute.

It was the fourth successive Test he had scored a try, the best run of his career.

The smattering of Fiji fans in the stadium waved their flags in celebration as scrumhalf Frank Lomani converted to pull Fiji to within a point of the Welsh 8-7.

Four minutes later the Fijians were in front after a magical move. Nayacalevu offloaded brilliantly to centre partner Radradra, who had the Welsh defence at sixes and sevens and he fed Tagitagivalu.

The flanker finished it off prompting manic celebrations behind the posts with the replacements joining in. Lomani converted for 14-8.

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The water break could not come quick enough for the Welsh in a very warm Bordeaux. Biggar refreshed them even more landing another long range penalty for 14-11.

Wales were back in front by the half-hour mark, Nick Tompkins teeing up fellow veteran North  appearing in his fourth World Cup – who did a neat sidestep to touch down. Biggar converted for 18-14.

Fiji came at the Welsh but Eroni Mawi was adjudged to have knocked the ball on as he stretched to touch down over the line, the decision being greeted with boos.

It was all Wales in the early stages of the second half and their pressure paid off.

Rees-Zammit was able to gather the ball after Vinaya Habosi failed to catch captain Jac Morgan’s cross-field kick and touch down. Biggar converted for 25-14 with just over half an hour to play.

The wonderful see-sawing of the game continued apace as Fiji then camped inside the Welsh 22 but came away with nothing, Levani Botia spilling the ball over the line. They were left to rue that as they suffered two blows within a minute.

Referee Matt Carley having shown admirable restraint finally wielded a yellow card with Tagitagivalu walking off.

The Welsh scored a try almost immediately after he had crossed the touchline, Dee going over, Biggar converting for 32-14 before himself leaving the stage.

The numbers were evened up as Carley sin-binned Domachowski but with only 12 minutes remaining the task was huge for Fiji.

They managed to cross the line Tuisova touching down converted by Tela with seven minutes remaining. The Fijians just would not let up and went over again although they missed the conversion.

Their spirits high they came again and looked all but certain to go over as Radradra was found out wide on his own but to his horror he spilled the ball.

He sank to his knees and sportingly was consoled by Liam Williams, whose teammates also went onto their haunches too tired to celebrate.

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP





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