Winger Josh Adams grabbed a hat-trick of tries as a battered and bruised Wales battled to a 29-17 bonus-point win over Fiji on Wednesday to book their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
In a frenzied clash under the roof at Oita Stadium, the Fijians gave the Six Nations champions a real scare, surging into 17-14 lead early in the second half of the Pool D with a penalty try.
That revived memories of the ‘Nightmare in Nantes’ when the Pacific islanders knocked Wales out of the 2007 World Cup.
Adams, however, steadied the ship with his hat-trick try on the hour-mark and fullback Liam Williams crossed 12 minutes from the siren to settle the game.
Wales ended the game with concerns over talismanic flyhalf Dan Biggar, sidelined with a head injury for a second time in the tournament and who was quickly ruled out of the team’s final pool game.
“We probably started a little slowly out of the box, we knew that if Fiji got their tails up we were going to be in for a hard day at the office,” said Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.
“But credit to Fiji, we saw the best of them at times today. We did the job today but plenty to work on.”
The result ensured Wales, with 14 points, leapfrogged Australia (11 points) to top the pool ahead of their final game against Uruguay. Fiji were eliminated after losing earlier matches to Australia and Uruguay.
“I’m so proud of the effort our boys put in this evening,” Fiji coach John McKee told reporters.
“They’re playing a Six Nations champion team that’s been number one in the world this year and they really took the game to them. Although we didn’t get here in the end, it was an absolute gallant effort all round.”