Rugby World Cup Pool A: Gareth Davies delivers as Wales get past Fiji
Wales are now 6/4 favourites with Coral to top Rugby World Cup Pool A following a 23-13 Millennium Stadium win over Fiji, but missed the chance to get a bonus point victory that would’ve put even more pressure on group rivals England and Australia ahead of their Twickenham meeting on Saturday.
Warren Gatland’s injury-hit side coped with a heavy-hitting, physical big match against the Pacific Islanders. which brings the Welsh to the verge of the quarter-finals.
Scrum half Gareth Davies grabbed his fourth try of this Rugby World Cup by crossing for the opener inside seven minutes. Hooker Scott Baldwin also squeezed through and went over during the first-half, with kicker Dan Biggar converting both tries with a penalty sandwiched in between.
That established a 17-6 half-time lead for the Welsh, but work on their scrum is needed going into the Wallabies game next weekend with Fiji’s Ben Volavola unable to fully punish multiple concessions of penalties.
Vereniki Goneva’s 85-metre run for a try within 10 minutes of the restart, and subsequent conversion by Volavola brought the Pacific Islanders back into this contest.
Wales earned this win, however, playing possession rugby in the second-half and for territory, with Biggar kicking two more penalties to bring about a more comfortable 10-point gap.
Home skipper Sam Warburton downplayed the significance of missing out on a bonus point victory, after another crossing from Davies was ruled out because a Fijian hand got under the ball.
“Our priority today was to win, not the bonus point,” Wales’ Warburton said. “Credit to Fiji they played like they had nothing to lose. It was extremely tough but we’ve got three wins from three.”
There is still lots of rugby to played in this pool, however, and all eyes again shift to host nation England. The Aussies will provide stiff opposition; a loss will prove terminal for Stuart Lancaster’s side, and send Wales, now 12/1 to lift the Webb Ellis cup, through to the knockout phase.