Wales 29-17 Fiji: Warren Gatland's side confirm World Cup quarter-final place
Wales all-but certain to top Pool D and face either England or France in the quarters
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 13/10/19 5:40pm
A Josh Adams hat-trick ensured Wales remain in pole position to top World Cup Pool D above Australia, after a 29-17 victory over Fiji in Oita.
The treble from wing Adams was added to by a Liam Williams try, two Dan Biggar conversions, a Rhys Patchell penalty and further Patchell conversion, in a thrilling contest where every point mattered.
Josua Tuisova and Kini Murimurivalu had scored early tries for Fiji who went 10-0 ahead, while the Fijians also scored a penalty try to go 17-14 in front into the second half.
But the Test saw four yellow cards, as Wales hooker Ken Owens and Fiji forwards Tevita Cavubati and Semi Kunatani were sin-binned in the first half, while Wales flanker James Davies was sin-binned in the second. And it was how the respective sides dealt with those periods that ultimately decided the game in Wales' favour.
Warren Gatland's charges finish their pool stage schedule against Uruguay in Kumamoto on Sunday, and are now almost assured of topping Pool D. In the quarter-finals, they will face the runners-up of Pool C - which will be decided when England face France on Saturday.
Fiji outlined their intent when they called a scrum on three minutes having been awarded a penalty for offside. Moments later, Tuisova was scoring in the corner as he bumped Wales wing Adams and shrugged off the attentions of Dan Biggar and Josh Navidi before finishing spectacularly.
Wales thought they had responded quickly with a Navidi try, but the score was ruled out for a knock-on by Hadleigh Parkes in the tackle.
Seconds later, Fiji were celebrating a second try through scrum-half Frank Lomani, but the score was ruled out for a Semi Radradra forward pass.
Wales hooker Ken Owens was sin-binned at the same moment for a tip-tackle on Fiji No 8 Bill Mata earlier in the move, however, after a TMO review, and was spared a red card due to Mata landing on his back.
Fiji kicked to touch and on nine minutes did score a second try as full-back Murimurivalu touched down in the same corner Tuisova had before him, running inside Williams and bashing past Adams before reaching out and scoring.
Out-half Ben Volavola missed the conversion again though and on 17 minutes, all Fiji's good early work was undone as second-row Cavubati was yellow-carded for a needless no-arms shoulder charge at the ruck.
A minute later, Wales reduced the deficit as Adams did superbly to take a high ball off a Biggar cross-field kick, rising above Volavola to score. Biggar then did what Volavola couldn't before, and split the uprights with the conversion to cut the gap to 10-7.
Wales turned down a shot at goal to level things on 25 minutes, and then had another Adams try ruled out for a foot in touch after several TMO replays. It was a tight call but the right one as Fiji scrum-half Lomani put in a remarkable try-saving tackle.
Cavubati emerged from his sin-bin period thereafter, but Fiji were almost instantly reduced back to 14 men as flanker Kunatani was sin-binned for repeated team infringements on top of their own line after being caught for offside.
Two minutes later Adams was over for his second try, as Wales exposed the space out wide to score in the left corner after quick hands through the backs.
Near the break, Mata was denied a third Fiji try because of a Volavola forward pass with Kunatani still in the bin, and the half-time score remained at 14-10 to Wales.
Fiji started the second half by dictating the play and had a spell of heavy pressure ended when Wales openside James Davies made a huge breakdown steal within his own 22.
The same player was sin-binned five minutes later, however, as Davies was yellow-carded for killing the ball on his own 22.
Having turned down the simple shot at goal for a kick to the corner, Fiji were immediately rewarded when a dominant rolling maul was brought down and a penalty try awarded by referee Jerome Garces.
With Davies still in the bin, Wales levelled things when replacement Rhys Patchell - who came on for the injured Biggar - struck from 42 metres out off the tee after Fiji lock Cavubati was pinged for offside.
Then came the crucial score in the Test as Wales centre Jonathan Davies made a stunning break, producing a powerful hand-off on Jale Vatubua to scythe through, before throwing a sumptuous offload out the back to Adams, who dived into the corner for his hat-trick score.
When back-row Davies emerged back from the sidelines, Wales had won the sin-bin period 8-7 and Fiji would not recover.
Indeed it was Wales who would have the final say with 10 minutes left as full-back Williams scored after a half-break from scrum-half Gareth Davies.
The one concerning aspect to the victory for Gatland and co will be potential injuries, as Biggar went off after a huge head knock, centre Davies limped off and wing Adams also appeared to be limping.