OITA, Japan (AFP) – Winger Josh Adams scored a sensational hat-trick yesterday as Wales booked a Rugby World Cup quarter-final place with a 29-17 bonus-point win over Fiji, sending Australia through in the process.
In an end-to-end encounter in Oita, Fiji scored two tries in the first eight minutes playing some free-flowing rugby, but the Six Nations champions pegged them back and a Liam Williams try with 12 minutes left buried the Fijians’ chances.
The result also guaranteed Australia’s progress to the last eight ahead of their final Pool D game against Georgia tomorrow.
But the victory may have come at a high price for Wales, with playmaker Dan Biggar apparently knocked out in an aerial clash with teammate Liam Williams, and Adams limped off with a knee injury after breaking the game open with his third try when the score was deadlocked 17-17.
Fiji produced a flying start with two tries in a dramatic opening, in which a third try was ruled out by a forward pass and Wales went a man down when hooker Ken Owens was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle.
It was the first of four yellow cards as referee Jerome Garces lost patience with repeated fouls.
Although the final scoreline was probably closer than Wales would have liked, and Fiji wing Semi Radradra was named man of the match, the Welsh did outscore Fiji four tries to three.
Fiji rocked Wales from the kick-off to take play up to the shadow of the posts where they won a penalty and opted for a scrum. The ball went wide and Josua Tuisova ran over Adams and Biggar to score.
When a Wales chance to score was ruled out by knock-on, Fiji swept back on attack and were rewarded with a try to Kini Murimurivalu. The sting was taken out of the Fijian attack when a shoulder charge saw lock Tevita Cavubati sent to the sin-bin.
With numbers even on the field, Biggar engineered Wales’ first points with a well-weighted cross-kick to Adams who scored in the corner.
After the referee’s warning about fouls, Fiji flanker Semi Kunatani was caught offside and sent to the sin-bin and in his absence Wales hit the front with Adams’ second try converted by Biggar.
Wales held a 14-10 lead at half-time after Fiji’s chance to hit the front again just before the break was wasted when Ben Volavola’s pass to an unmarked Viliame Mata floated forward.
James Davies was sent off for a deliberate off-side 12 minutes into the second half.
It saw Fiji go for a lineout and when Wales pulled down the subsequent drive it resulted in a penalty try to put Fiji back in front.
A minute after Rhys Patchell took the field for the injured Biggar, he landed a 42-metre penalty to level the scores.
A slick back-of-the-hand pass from Jonathan Davies then sent Adams over for his third try to restore the lead for Wales before Liam Williams scored Wales’ bonus-point try.