WALES made a dream start to their World Cup campaign as they stuffed out the dangerous Fijians and roared to a bonus point victory – although it was a real nail-biter!
After powering into a 32-14 lead Wales were clinging on desperately at the end, and only a knock on from Semi Radradra with the clock deep in the red zone thwarted an incredible Fiji comeback.
But until they gave up two tries in the final eight minutes this was a fantastic defensive effort from the Dragons at the Rugby World Cup.
They kept knocking back the South Sea Islanders in the tackle in a way that England failed to do when they were beaten at Twickenham by Fiji two weeks earlier.
And the Dragons also showed a real cutting edge in attack, conjuring up dazzling tries for wings Josh Adams and Louis Rees Zammit and centre George North
And replacement hooker Elliott Dee put the seal on a stunning performance by crashing over from a rolling maul late in the second half, to secure the extra point.
Those two late tries from Fiji made it much than it should have been, but Wales were good value for the win.
After a dismal time of it in the last 18 months, Wales had been pretty much written off before they rook on a team three places higher than them in the world rankings.
But yet again Warren Gatland seems to have found a way of getting the best out of his players at World Cup time.
His players looked right up for the fight, and Wales could hardly have asked for a better start, as they found themselves eight points ahead after just seven minutes.
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They were awarded a penalty 45 metres out with just 53 seconds on the clock, and Dan Biggar knocked it over with the minimum of fuss.
That brought a roar of approval from a stadium where at least ninety per cent of the fans were decked in red.
And the first chorus of hymns and arias broke out as Josh Adams jinked his way over in the corner after a superb break in midfield from George North.
But the crowd were stunned into silence as the Fijians hit back with two trademark tries in the space of four minutes.
Inspirational skipper Waisea Nayacalevu burst through two tackles to score the first, and then smashed a hole for centre partner Semi Radradra to send Lekima Tagitagivalu sprinting over near the posts.
Teti Tela converted both scores, and at 14-8 down Wales had to score next.
Sure enough, Biggar kicked a carbon copy of his earlier penalty, and he also added the extras after Nick Tomkins’ superbly-timed pass sent North darting over between the sticks.
It was frantic, breathless stuff from both sides, and Wales profited from an incredible double let-off shortly before the break.
After a long deliberation by the TMO prop Eroni Mawi was ruled to have lost control of the ball just as he dotted it down over the Wales lin.
And a judgement on a potential no-arms tackle in the same move by Ryan Elias also went the Dragons’ way.
It was still in the balance with Wales leading 18-14 at the break. But there was a growing
…. to be continued
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