Viliame Mata Rugby World Cup: Bruised Wales grind out victory over determined Fiji

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Wales 29 Fiji 17

The last scene was desperately sad to witness. Fijians, each man alone, down on one knee, praying or simply gasping for air. Sore-looking Welsh men picked them up but they know they are better than this. They know they deserve better than this.

The World Cup moves on without rugby’s true artists.

Fiji remains a sporting tragedy. Their tournament is over now, cursed by a four-day turnaround that led to Uruguay’s momentous victory in Kamaishi after being scandalously denied the chance to beat a 14-man Australia, they leave Japan filled with regrets.

This is rugby’s greatest sin. The Pacific Islanders should be eternal contenders, champions elect even, instead their fate is to be also-rans, yet again.

“It’s amazingly complicated to get tours together,” said Fiji coach John McKee. “If we could play more Tier One Test matches that would be great.”

The supreme rugby nation, ransacked of teenage magicians by – take your pick from – French clubs, New Zealand schools, Rugby League, were so thrillingly effective that the Grand Slam Welsh could barely cope with the power, the pace and most of all the panache.

Just like they frightened the Wallabies, this Super Typhoon faded in the face of structured rugby. Still, it took 68 minutes before Liam Williams claimed the bonus point by carving through a litter of white jerseys.

Big calls

Warren Gatland must regenerate his squad to face Uruguay on Sunday but they will almost certainly top Pool D with the loser of France versus England waiting in the quarter-final.

Fiji go home.

The referees remain a central narrative. Here was yet another night full of big calls, Jerome Garces brandishing four yellow cards and disallowing four tries, but at least the officials are communicating with clarity in their quest to eradicate human error.

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