Viliame Mata Wales survive early Fijian scare thanks to Josh Adams hat-trick as they qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals

Viliame Mata I be wild about constituents, because they are awesome!

On Wales march here in Japan, still unbeaten, still in control of Pool D, but only after overcoming a monumental scare from Fiji before securing their 29-17 win in Oita.

Josh Adams finished with a hat-trick as Wales came from behind in both halves to eventually triumph, although there will be real concern over injuries to Dan Biggar and Jonathan Davies.

It was only when Liam Williams crossed to score after 68 minutes that Wales could truly relax, having been put through the wringer by the spectacular Semi Radradra and his team-mates. Every touch Radradra had was outstanding, including a rib-crunching tackle on Liam Williams. Quite rightly, he was named player of the match.

The two steps in Wales’ masterplan to prevent another upset to go with 2007 in Nantes were surely simple: subdue Fiji through a mix of aggressive defence and dominance at the set-piece, and give them no early opportunities to build up any confidence. The second part was a complete disaster.

Josua Tuisova’s wonder finish in the corner for the opening try was box office, a perfect summary of his talent. Do not believe everything they flash up onto the big screen – his weight during the team announcements was listed as 92kg. And the rest. Josh Adams, Dan Biggar and even Josh Navidi could not stop Tuisova before he reached out to score.

Wales were then lucky that Ken Owens only saw yellow for a reckless tackle on Viliame Mata, after Frank Lomani had a second Fijian try ruled out for a forward pass. But Fiji were in the groove. Attacking from deep, with Radradra looping off his wing, again Adams was found wanting in defence as Kini Murimurivalu burst through to score for a 10-0 lead, after two missed conversions from Ben Volavola.

At least Wales had time on their side, and a numerical advantage with Owens back on the field and Fiji losing Tevita Cavubati to a yellow card for an illegal clearout. 

From that penalty they set up camp in the Fiji 22, recycling through phases to the right before Dan Biggar’s cross-field kick to the left corner gave Adams an aerial contest for the ball with Ben Volavola which he won with ease to score, ending a difficult first 20 minutes for the Wales wing on a high.

Fiji turning a little ragged also opened the door – another dropped pass in midfield was followed by a ponderous approach to picking up the ball near his own try line by Volavola, giving Wales valuable field position. 

They took an age to capitalise. There was a short-range lineout and two five-metre scrums, plus a second try ruled out for Adams, whose foot was ruled by the television match official to be in touch – just – after an excellent cover tackle by Lomani. 

Semi Kunatani’s yellow card for offside, the result of Fiji giving up a number of penalties backed up on their line, did leave the door open, however, for Adams to score after Wales created an overlap down the left-hand side, nudging them ahead 14-10 with Biggar’s touchline conversion.

Fiji at one point thought they had a third try, although Volavola’s pass to Mata was correctly ruled forward, leaving Wales ahead by four points at the break after an absorbing half.

Fortunately, there was no drop-off in entertainment. Radradra’s switch from wing to centre, following a first-half injury to Levani Botia, if anything seemed to make them more dangerous, sliding his way through seemingly closed gaps. The pressure was back on Wales, and after James Davies, starting in place of the rested Justin Tipuric, was yellow-carded for hands in the ruck, Fiji pounced; their maul hurtling towards the Wales line before being illegally collapsed leading to a penalty try.

If Wales were to win this fixture it would have to happen without Biggar, seemingly concussed after a sickening collision with Liam Williams as both players attempted to catch the ball, his head crashing into the turf and sparking immediate concern after his failed head injury assessment against Australia in Tokyo.

Rhys Patchell, tasked with steering Wales home as he did against Australia, levelled the scores at 17-17 with a penalty heading into the final quarter, before Jonathan Davies produced a moment of real class. His fend on Jale Vatubua was superb, followed by a sumptuous offload out the back to Adams who completed his hat-trick. It came however at a price, with the sight of Wales’ star centre then limping off a massive concern ahead of the quarter-finals.

A five-point margin never felt like enough points on the board, with Fiji finding cracks and missed tackles in a Wales’ defence that normally squeezes the life out of their opponents. Radradra, in particular, played like a man possessed. This required an exhausting defensive effort by Wales, even after a 10-day break.

But then came the knockout punch, an incisive run from Gareth Davies, so often the scorer in World Cup matches for Wales, turning provider for Liam Williams with an inside pass to make it 29-17 after Patchell’s conversion. Fiji battled magnificently. Wales rallied and remain unbeaten, but seemingly at a cost to some of their key players.

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1:00PM

Alun Wyn Jones speaks to ITV

We started slow out the blocks. We knew if Fiji got their tails up then we would be in for a hard day at the office. But, full respect and credit to Fiji – we saw the best of them today. It’s difficult to play against.

You’re sort of damned if you do and damned if you don’t against Fiji. But we had to show character in both halves there to narrow the deficit. There are things we can tighten up, but full credit to Fiji.

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Credit: ITV

12:56PM

How Pool A looks

A win for Wales against Uruguay on Sunday means they will leave Pool D top.

12:54PM

Semi Radradra

It does seem slightly churlish to give the man-of-the-match to a player on the losing side, but Fiji’s Semi Radradra can feel rightly aggrieved if he does not receive that gong today.

Here’s one of his big hits on Liam Williams:

12:49PM

Full time: Wales 29 Fiji 17

Williams kicks the ball off the field following the scrum, and that’s the quarter-final guaranteed for Wales, with Uruguay to come on Sunday.

If they beat the South Americans, then they will top the pool. Depending on how Australia get on against Georgia on Friday, a draw – even a losing bonus point – might be enough to progress as pool winners.

12:47PM

79 min: Wales 29 Fiji 17    

Wales make good ground off the lineout, with North carrying well, but the wing spills the ball in contact, so Fiji will get the scrum on halfway, centre field.

Fiji look to get Tuisova involved again, and his leg-drive in contact gets him beyond the gain line, but Williams and Watkin manage to force the knock-on.

30 seconds remain. Fiji have been brave, but Wales have just about been better.

12:44PM

77 min: Wales 29 Fiji 17   

Fiji do attempt to go from deep, but they struggle for quick ball and, once again, are a bit lateral.

Wales give away a needless penalty, however, for not rolling away, and Volavola puts Fiji on halfway.

Fiji try a lineout move, wrapping round the hooker channel again, but replacement hooker Dolokoto was in touch.

12:41PM

75 min: Wales 29 Fiji 17  

Wales break wide following a set-up in midfield, and Williams sets North away with a gorgeous out-the-back pass, but Wales are pulled back as Parkes’ pass to Williams was forward.

Fiji have the scrum on their own 22 with time running out.

12:40PM

74 min: Wales 29 Fiji 17 

But Fiji steal the lineout! They couldn’t go the length, could they?

Matawalu decides the answer is ‘no’, and clears with a box-kick.

Wales will have another go on the Fiji 10-metre line.

12:39PM

73 min: Wales 29 Fiji 17

Fiji look to attack around halfway, but it’s a bit lateral.

Volavola chips, Williams takes, and Radradra comes in with a monstrous hit.

Fiji are pinged for going off their feet at the ruck, however, and Patchell gives Wales the lineout inside the Fiji 22.

12:36PM

70 min: CONVERSION PATCHELL Wales 29 Fiji 17                 

Easy as you like for Patchell. Fiji have been lethal with ball in hand, but surely more than 10 points in 10 minutes is too much for them against a side as strong as Wales?

12:36PM

69 min: TRY WILLIAMS Wales 27 Fiji 17                

Wales win lineout ball on halfway and drive a maul up to the Fiji 10-metre line.

Patchell kicks down to the Fiji five-metre line, but Tuisova sweeps up well, allowing Lomani to clear.

But only as far as Williams and Watkin. Moriarty supports, offloading to Davies, who finds himself in a two-on-one with Murimurivalu. He finds Williams perfectly who scores under the posts.

12:32PM

67 min: Wales 22 Fiji 17               

Tuisova breaks straight through a massive hole in the Wales defence, directly from the scrum.

He takes Fiji up to the Wales 22, but Volavola knocks on attempting a potentially scoring offload.

Wales clear, but Radradra counter-attacks. Fiji get back up to the Wales 22 following bursts from Murimurivalu and Waqaniburotu.

Volavola goes cross-field to Nakarawa, and he collects it! His offload can’t find Tuisova though – if it had he would have scored.

Fiji are pinged for a tackle on the floor, and Wales will clear with ease.

12:28PM

64 min: Wales 22 Fiji 17              

Fiji come straight back, attempting to launch an attack from halfway, with Cavubati carrying straight through Owens.

Watkin knocks on as he attempts to intercept, however, so Fiji will have the scrum on halfway.

Following that try, Jonathan Davies has hobbled off – Wales will be hoping that’s not too serious.

12:26PM

63 min: MISSED CON Patchell Wales 22 Fiji 17             

It was tough for Patchell but, regardless, Wales move five points clear.

With how Fiji have been attacking though, that might not be enough…

12:24PM

62 min: TRY ADAMS Wales 22 Fiji 17            

Stunning from Jonathan Davies.

Wales look to go wide from the lineout, following some good grunt work.

Davies burst clear on the outside with a huge fend, he backs himself to get there but is stopped metres short by Radradra.

He offloads superbly out the back to Adams, however, who dives over the covering defence – avoiding the touchline – to secure his hat-trick.

The TMO checked and it was all good.

12:22PM

60 min: Wales 17 Fiji 17           

Mata collects a Williams high ball and Fiji look to attack to the openside.

Francis puts a great covering tackle on Cavubati, before Murimurivalu is pinged for clearing out North from the side.

Patchell gives Wales a lineout just beyond the Fiji 10-metre line.

12:20PM

58 min: PENALTY Patchell Wales 17 Fiji 17          

A composed nudge from Patchell and we are level-pegging as we approach the game’s final quarter.

12:20PM

58 min: Wales 14 Fiji 17         

Wales win the penalty after Matavesi is offside.

Kunatani put in another crunching hit on Ball, incidentally. He’s having some match.

Patchell will kick at goal, 45 metres out, bang in front.

12:17PM

56 min: Wales 14 Fiji 17        

Biggar has had to leave the field, so Patchell is on.

Biggar left the field on his feet, however, so it doesn’t look too serious despite the initial concerns.

The game will restart with a Wales scrum on halfway, wide right.

12:17PM

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12:16PM

56 min: Wales 14 Fiji 17       

Wales look to attack from halfway but the Fijian defence stays strong.

Williams finds space though, offloading wonderfully to Davies, but the Welsh scrum-half knocks on as he was in behind.

Volavola puts a high ball up with the scrum advantage and Williams and Biggar go up to collect it but – ouch!

Biggar has taken a very heavy knock, colliding with Williams, and Garces has stopped the game.

12:13PM

54 min: PENALTY TRY Wales 14 Fiji 17      

Fiji kick to the corner and their maul flies towards the line.

Wales drag it down a metre short, illegally, and Garces charges under the sticks.

Wales look rattled and Fiji are motoring! No conversion required.

12:12PM

54 min: YELLOW CARD James Davies Wales 14 Fiji 10     

Radradra has been phenomenal. He carries ferociously over the gain line, up to the Wales 22, and he his eventually stopped by Davies.

But the openside flanker doesn’t roll away and Garces thinks it was serious and cynical enough to warrant a card. A massive moment.

Fiji kick to the corner…

12:10PM

52 min: Wales 14 Fiji 10    

Parkes is used as the first-phase crash dummy as Wales clear as far as Nayacalevu on halfway.

Fiji come back, and Radradra breaks the line again, but his offload goes straight to Navidi. 

Wales them catch the Fijian bug and try to counter themselves, but the pass to captain Jones, of all people, out wide is sloppy and he knocks on. Careless and needless.

This is a prime attacking scrum for Fiji now – well inside the Welsh half.

12:08PM

50 min: Wales 14 Fiji 10   

Fiji have come again!

They go wide from first phase and Murimurivalu breaks through, he links up with Nayacalevu who is stopped by North five metres short.

He tries to pop up to Radradra, who would have scored, but he can’t find him.

We are going back anyway, as Murimurivalu’s pass was forward. A let-off for Wales.

12:05PM

48 min: Wales 14 Fiji 10  

Fiji run a nice lineout move as Mata wraps round into the hooker channel to take Fiji to within 10 metres of the Wales line.

But James Davies works hard to turn the ball over at the breakdown and Biggar clears up to the 10-metre line.

Fiji will come again from the lineout.

12:03PM

45 min: Wales 14 Fiji 10 

Kunatani  goes from hero to villain, as he drops first-phase possession in midfield.

Wales have a scrum centre-field, after which Davies grubber kicks down to Fijian territory.

But Radradra and Nayacalevu come flying back, the former with a silky offload to the latter, and Fiji work back up to halfway.

They win a penalty, too, after captain Jones caught Mata high.

11:59AM

42 min: Wales 14 Fiji 10

Volavola bombs straight down Biggars throat, before Williams goes on a winding run.

Wales switch back to the openside, and they do have numbers, but James Davies is a little isolated. Kunatani gets over the ball, survives the attempted clearout of captain Jones, and wins a holding-on penalty.

Fiji lineout on the Wales 10-metre line to come.

11:57AM

Josh Adams’ second try

11:55AM

On ruck clear-out cards

Tevita Cavubati’s clear-out and yellow card an interesting one, like Josh Larsen’s red yesterday. Potential unintended consequences of those decisions – and proactive TMOs – might be more aggressive jackalling and (even) messier breakdowns. And some pretty grim stuff to watch.

— Charlie Morgan (@CharlieFelix) October 9, 2019

 …and more stoppages

11:47AM

Our man in Oita

Absorbing half. Fiji right in this. Must have taken Wales about 10 minutes camped in Fiji’s 22 to get that second Adams try. Garcès in danger of getting steamrolled in open play by Moriarty/Mata/everyone. #WALvFIJ

— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) October 9, 2019

11:45AM

Half-time: Wales 14 Fiji 10           

A fascinating half of rugby.

Fiji came flying out the blocks, racing into a 10-0 lead thanks to a stunning solo effort from Tuisova, as well as a well-worked move for Murimurivalu’s score.

But Wales did not panic. They stayed patient and punished some sloppy Fijian discipline. Wing Josh Adams scored both tries, wide on his left wing, that were both converted wonderfully by Dan Biggar.

We have had three yellow cards already and, if Fiji can keep a full complement of players, they will remain a handful.

11:42AM

39 min: Wales 14 Fiji 10          

Fiji put the pressure on at the scrum but Moriarty picks himself, and he breaks away!

He gets up to the halfway line before he’s hauled down. Wales have acres of space to the right, but Parkes decides to go alone – that was a poor decision, and he knocks on.

Fiji clear, before Wales attempt to return with a counter, but Tuisova tackles Adams into touch. Fiji have the lineout just inside their own half.

Bodies everywhere, hamstrings being grasped. I think we all need half-time.

11:38AM

38 min: Wales 14 Fiji 10         

Fiji find Tuisova on his wing in some space, but Adams does much better with the tackle this time and chops him at source.

Volavola put a cross-field grubber in for Radradra, and the Fijian wing regathers deep into the Wales 22. Fiji get quick ball, shipping wide to the right quickly, Tuisova with a gorgeous offload.

Mata then breaks down the right. He gets to the line but he’s pulled back for a massive forward pass, the scoring one, from Volavola.

Wales survive and will have the scrum.

11:36AM

35 min: Wales 14 Fiji 10        

Volavola looks to find Radradra with a blind inside ball, but James Davies reads it well, but he cannot control his interception. Fiji will scrum, centre of the field, on the Wales 22.

11:34AM

34 min: Wales 14 Fiji 10       

Fiji look to work the phases on halfway, before Francis and Jones are penalised at a ruck for being off their feet.

Volavola threads Fiji down into the Wales 22 and they will have a lineout.

Fiji are still a man down, so a try here would be a major boost.

11:32AM

32 min: CON BIGGAR Wales 14 Fiji 10      

Stunning strike from Biggar once again from wide left, and Wales now have the slightest bit of breathing space.

11:31AM

31 min: TRY ADAMS Wales 12 Fiji 10     

Wales unsurprisingly choose to scrum again, although Fiji’s last scrum was “fantastic” according to referee Garces.

Wales run a strike move with Williams the recipient. Parkes picks up from the base and gets to within a metre short, before Wales turn to the forwards again.

Eventually, Wales go wide and Williams flings a lovely flat pass to Davies, who exploits a two-on-one to tip on to Adams in the left corner.

11:28AM

29 min: YELLOW CARD Kunatani Wales 7 Fiji 10     

A better scrum from Fiji but Davies goes blind to Adams again. The wing is stopped a metre short as Wales revert to picking-and-going.

Biggar eventually uses the backs, following some great Fijian defence which pushes Wales back 10 metres, but Kunatani was offside on the Fiji line and he goes to the bin.

The fourth penalty in a row in the 22.

11:25AM

27 min: Wales 7 Fiji 10    

Adams is (just about!) in touch.

We go back to the scrum penalty.

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Credit: ITV

11:23AM

27 min: Wales 7 Fiji 10   

Wales win another penalty advantage from a scrum that motors towards the line.

Davies picks up, however, and whips a pass to Adams on the blindside. The Wales wing touches down, but it looks like he was in touch.

TMO decision pending…

11:21AM

26 min: Wales 7 Fiji 10  

Wales win a penalty from the lineout as Nakarawa comes round the side of the maul, and Wales choose to scrum.

Wales win a penalty from the scrum as Francis puts Ma’afu under serious pressure.

We scrum again.

11:18AM

24 min: Wales 7 Fiji 10 

Fiji spill the ball in midfield and Biggar hacks in to the Fiji 22 with J Davies chasing. No 8 Mata gets back superbly to clear, however, before Fiji look to attack, once again, from their 22.

Lomani eventually box-kicks, taken well by Williams but he’s clattered by Radradra. He recycles well, however, before a Davies grubber deep into the 22 puts Volavola into all kinds of bother.

Wales pressure him well and will throw into the lineout on the Fiji five-metre line.

11:16AM

21 min: Wales 7 Fiji 10

Biggar takes a high ball from Volavola and neatly puts Williams into space. 

Quick hands from Wales set Adams away down the left – really smart from Owens, J Davies, and Parkes – but the final pass was forward so Fiji will put-in to a scrum on halfway with a narrow blindside.

11:14AM

19 min: CON BIGGAR Wales 7 Fiji 10        

A great strike from Biggar and Wales are now back in the game.

That yellow card for Fiji could be lethal.

11:13AM

18 min: TRY ADAMS Wales 5 Fiji 10       

Ball takes the lineout as Wales try to drive a maul into the Fiji 22.

Parkes takes a first-phase crash ball before Biggar looks to go wider through J Davies.

Jones takes Wales to within five metres, and then Biggar looks cross-field!

He goes with pinpoint accuracy and Adams collects to score wide left. Volavola attempted to challenge the high ball but got nowhere near it.

11:11AM

16 min: YELLOW CARD Cavubati Wales 0 Fiji 10       

We do not even get chance to play the lineout before the TMO comes in.

Cavubati is going to the bin for a shoulder charge during the clear-out that led to the holding-on penalty. Correct decision.

Two yellow cards in 16 minutes, both of which were deserved.

11:09AM

15 min: Wales 0 Fiji 10      

Wales look to counter after they turn Fijian ball over, before Mata absolutely crunches Parkes, who is on the end of a Davies hospital pass.

We are going back for a penalty for Wales, though, as Fiji were holding on.

11:07AM

Fiji’s first try

Tuisova saying “good evening” to Josh Adams…

11:06AM

Can they do it again?

11:05AM

13 min: Wales 0 Fiji 10     

Wales attempt to launch a counter but Williams and Adams are not on the same wavelength, the ball flying into touch as they try to link up.

Fiji make a has of the lineout, though, so it will be a Wales scrum on halfway.

11:04AM

11 min: MISSED CONVERSION VOLAVOLA Wales 0 Fiji 10     

It’s tough again for him, but he’ll have to start getting these. Wales will come back, surely.

11:02AM

10 min: TRY MURIMURIVALU Wales 0 Fiji 10    

They’ll never believe it in Suva!

Fiji start a maul from the lineout and, as soon as they go wide through a delicious Radradra miss-pass, it’s ruthless from them. Murimurivalu crashes through Wales’ attempted tackles to dot down out wide on the right.

A thumping start.

10:59AM

8 min: YELLOW CARD OWENS Wales 0 Fiji 5     

Owens is sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Mata in the build-up to Fiji’s non-try.

Volavola kicks Fiji to within ten metres of the Wales line.

It’s gone from bad to worse for Wales.

10:58AM

8 min: Wales 0 Fiji 5    

The TMO is checking a dodgy tackle from Ken Owens, here. He has tipped Mata and could be looking at ten minutes in the bin.

10:57AM

8 min: Wales 0 Fiji 5   

Liam Williams cannot collect his own box-kick on halfway and Fiji launch a scintillating counter!

Radradra links up with Mata, the former holding off the attention of North. He offloads inside to Lomani he goes on to score unopposed.

There was a massive forward pass though, and the TMO rules it out. That’s two disallowed tries in the first seven minutes.

10:55AM

7 min: Wales 0 Fiji 5  

North picks  up a loose ball after Fiji try to run from deep after the restart. He offloads to Navidi who goes on to score, but there was a knock-on in the tackle by Wales earlier on so Fiji are saved.

Fiji, as expe

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