Fiji to target Wales back row as they chase Rugby World Cup upset
Last Updated: 08/10/19 5:08pm
Fiji will look to put pressure on Wales' rejigged back row in their Rugby World Cup clash on Wednesday as the Pacific islanders look to keep their faint quarter-final hopes alive, coach John McKee said.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has elected to rest Justin Tipuric for the Pool D match at Oita Stadium, bringing in James Davies at openside flanker.
In other Welsh tweaks, Ross Moriarty has been promoted from the bench to start at No 8, with Josh Navidi shifting across to the blindside.
McKee has brought Viliame Mata into his back row, with the Edinburgh forward named at No 8 in place of the benched Peceli Yato.
The only change to the Fiji starting side that thrashed Georgia 45-10, Olympic rugby sevens gold medallist Mata will stand with openside flanker Semi Kunatani and captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu.
"We have got some very good back rowers, and whichever way we play them, it is a very strong, strong back row on the park," said McKee.
"We can see what a strong side they are around the breakdown. One of the closest battles will be there.
"Wales certainly look to attack the ball on the carriers and either try to win turnovers or slow the ball up. That is going to be a critical area for us, firstly to make sure we get good continuity and that secondly, we are effective enough to get quick ball."
Having lost both opening pool games against Australia and Uruguay, victory in their final clash against Wales would keep Fiji in contention for the quarter-finals, but they would need either the Welsh or the Wallabies to slip up in their final matches to go through.
Pool D leaders Australia play Georgia in their final game, while Wales meet Uruguay.
"We see this final pool game as both a challenge and an opportunity, it is important to finish the pool stage on a high note," said McKee.
"We carry some confidence and momentum from the Georgia match and at the same time know we must step up in performance in this match as it will be of a higher intensity."
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 6 Josh Navidi, 7 James Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Aaron Shingler, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Owen Watkin.
Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Lepani Botia, 11 Semi Radradra, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Frank Lomani; 1 Campese Ma'afu, 2 Samuel Matavesi, 3 Manasa Saulo, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu (c), 7 Semi Kunatani, 8 Viliame Mata.
Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Peni Ravai, 19 Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 20 Peceli Yato, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Jale Vatubua, 23 Josh Matavesi.