Wales holds off late Fiji assault in Rugby World Cup classic

© Christophe Archambault, AFP

Wales fended off a frenzied Fijian assault to emerge 32-26 victors in their opening World Cup Pool C clash in Bordeaux on Sunday, giving themselves every chance of advancing to the quarter-finals.

Victory in the raucous, freewheeling contest offers a beleaguered Welsh squad redemption after losing six of eight internationals in 2023, while Fiji's hopes of advancing already look dented for all their recent progress.

Victory was almost stolen at the end by the Pacific islanders who were fighting back from an 18-point deficit and could have completed an unlikely comeback before Fiji's star centre Semi Radradra, of all players, knocked on with the tryline in sight.

Both teams scored four tries in a game full of line breaks, exciting running and bruising clashes that had the crowd on the edge of their seats, especially at the end as Fiji fought back from 32-14 down.

"We always seem to make it hard for ourselves, but what we make up for with effort and courage and determination is just huge for this team," flyhalf Dan Biggar said after marshalling the Welsh resistance.

Josh Adams, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit and Elliot Dee crossed over for Wales with Dan Biggar adding two penalties and three conversions while Waisea Nayacalevu, Lekima Tagitagivalu, Josua Tuisova and Mesake Doge were Fiji’s try scorers.

It was also a clash of styles. Wales attempted to create space for runners with drilled pattern play and long passes, while Fiji simply tried to line up isolated defenders all night before side-stepping or smashing them.

Both sides' centre pairings were prominent in a bruising first half.


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