Wales Defeats Fiji 32-26 in Bordeaux

Wales Defeats Fiji 32-26 in Bordeaux

Wales kicked off their Rugby World Cup 2023 campaign with a heart-stopping 32-26 victory against Fiji in Pool C, captivating a crowd of 41,274, predominantly Welsh supporters, at Stade de Bordeaux.

The early proceedings saw Josh Adams notching a try for Wales, but Fiji quickly responded with tries from their captain, Waisea Nayacalevu, and flanker Lekima Tagitagivalu. George North’s try just before halftime tilted the score in Wales’s favor at 18-14.

In the second half, Louis Rees-Zammit showcased his skills by securing a cross-kick from Jac Morgan, further extending Wales’s lead. With 13 minutes remaining, Elliott Dee’s converted try, aided by a yellow card for Fiji’s Lekima Tagitagivalu, appeared to put Wales comfortably ahead at 32-14.

However, Fiji exhibited remarkable resilience. Josua Tuisova’s try initiated a late offensive surge, with Peni Ravai having a score disallowed due to a double movement. Mesake Doge crossed the line with just two minutes left, and only a Semi Radradra knock-on in the dying seconds allowed Wales to secure the win.

Dan Biggar, named the Mastercard Player of the Match, confessed that the nerve-wracking finale had left him “completely drained.” He stated, “The last 10 minutes felt like an eternity. We gave it our all, and Fiji mounted a fierce comeback. I’m immensely proud of this group of players for seeing it through, given the incredible effort we’ve put in over the past few months. This victory puts us in an excellent position in the group, but I’m absolutely spent.”

Wales coach Warren Gatland expressed his delight at the victory but also acknowledged that his team had made the game more challenging than necessary. He remarked, “We made some poor decisions in the final 15 minutes. We’ll need to conduct a thorough review, addressing issues like discipline. I’m somewhat frustrated with a few aspects, but the positive is that we secured the win. We were in control of the game, but we’re well aware of Fiji’s capabilities and lost some composure.”

The relentless pressure on Wales was evident in their staggering tally of over 200 tackles, three times that of Fiji. Captain Jac Morgan remarked, “We take immense pride in our defensive effort. We knew Fiji would keep coming at us, and that’s precisely what happened. Fortunately, we emerged victorious in the end.”

Wales’s next challenge is against Portugal in Nice on Saturday, 16th September, while Fiji must regroup before facing Australia in Saint Etienne a day later.

Fiji’s captain, Waisea Nayacalevu, who scored the first of their four tries, expressed disappointment but recognized the team’s relentless effort. He said, “That last pass was tough to take, but we need to learn from this and focus on the upcoming week.”

Flying Fijians head coach Simon Raiwalui attributed their loss to “too many mistakes” and a lack of clinical finishing. He added, “We had two or three chances to score tries, and two were disallowed. We must capitalize on our opportunities moving forward.”

Mark Z

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