Wales’ World Cup Pool C opener certainly lived up to expectations as the Pacific Islander’s brute strength and pace on the counter attack almost managed to repeat their shock competition triumph over Warren Gatland’s side 16 years ago.
Wales though despite their defensive frailties at times would be good value in attack scoring four tries on a sweltering night in Bourdeaux. Josh Adams, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit and Elliot Dee all powering over.
Having led 18-14 at half-time despite switching off to let the Fijians in twice in quick succession before the drinks break, it is easy to see where Gatland’s frustration’s stem.
Despite a much-improved rearguard display in the second half. Wales once again let the Pacific Islanders back into the game with two tries coming in quick succession when reduced to 14 men, almost losing the match from a seemingly unassailable 32-14 lead.
Whilst the unthinkable reverse did not pan out on this occasion after Fiji Centre Semi Radrandra miss controlled a pass with the Welsh try line gaping at his mercy, it would be food for thought for the veteran Kiwi.
“I’m delighted with the win, but we made it a hell of a lot harder for ourselves than we needed to and made some dumb decisions in the last 15 minutes,” said Gatland.
“We came away with a win though and there will be a thorough review process looking at some of the discipline and messages we were trying to get on.
“I’m a little angry about a few things but the positive is that we won. At 32-14, I thought we should have taken control of the game. We know what Fiji are like and what they are capable of, we lost a bit of composure there.
“We changed a few things at half-time and wanted to have a go at them upfront in terms of taking their legs. That period after the break where we upped the tempo a few of their players looked a little tired and we looked comfortable and in control.
“Typical Fiji though, they never say die and get a sniff of something and come back at you. We gave away some unnecessary penalties and lost a little composure. With the team and individuals, they’ve got, they can hurt you.
“I was frustrated, but it’s about being honest and making sure we learn from it.”
Wales next face Portugal in Nice next Saturday in Pool C as they look to move closer to a quarter-final berth, before a mouth-watering match-up against Southern Hemisphere giants Australia could potentially decide the standings on 25th September. Gatland’s side then finish their Pool action against Georgia in Nantes on the 7th of October.
(Lead image: Welsh Rugby Union)
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