WALES had a dream start to their World Cup campaign as they dispatched the dangerous Fijians and secured a bonus point victory – although it was a real nail-biter!
After building a 32-14 lead, Wales ultimately held on desperately and only a strike from Semi Radradra with the clock running deep in the red zone thwarted an incredible Fijian comeback.
But until they gave up two tries in the final eight minutes, this was a fantastic defensive display from the Dragons at the Rugby World Cup.
They repeatedly beat the South Sea Islanders back in one-on-one situations, something England failed to do when they were beaten by Fiji at Twickenham two weeks earlier.
And the Dragons also showed a real top performance in attack, conjuring up brilliant tries for wings Josh Adams and Louis Rees Zammit and center George North
And substitute hooker Elliott Dee sealed an impressive performance by diving down the floor after a rolling stick late in the second half to secure the extra point.
Those two late tries from Fiji made more of a difference than they should have, but Wales offered good value for the win.
After a dismal period over the past 18 months, Wales had been pretty much written off before competing with a team three places above them in the world rankings.
But once again Warren Gatland appears to have found a way to get the best out of his players at the World Cup.
His players were well prepared for the fight and Wales could hardly have asked for a better start as they were eight points ahead after just seven minutes.
CASINO SPECIAL – THE BEST CASINO WELCOME OFFERS
They were awarded a penalty from 45 yards out with just 53 seconds on the clock, which Dan Biggar canceled out with minimal effort.
That sparked huge cheers in a stadium where at least ninety percent of fans were decked out in red.
And the first chorus of hymns and arias rang out when Josh Adams edged into the corner after a great break in George North’s midfield.
But the crowd fell silent as the Fijians hit back with two trademark tries in four minutes.
Inspirational skipper Waisea Nayacalevu made two tackles and scored the first goal. He then punched a hole for center partner Semi Radradra, which sent Lekima Tagitagivalu sprinting near the posts.
Teti Tela scored both goals and, trailing 14-8, Wales were next to score.
In fact, Biggar scored a carbon copy of his earlier penalty, and he also added the extras after Nick Tomkins’ superbly timed pass fired North between the posts.
It was hectic and breathless on both sides and Wales benefited from an incredible double goal just before half-time.
After much deliberation, TMO supporter Eroni Mawi concluded that he had lost control of the ball just as he dropped it over the Welsh line.
And the Dragons also benefited from Ryan Elias’ assessment of a possible no-arms tackle on the same play.
It was still a draw as Wales led 18-14 at the break. But faith in Wales grew as they stopped the onrushing Fijians and showed some clinical rugby of their own.
Skipper Morag had a stormy game and even conjured up a cross-kick to set up his side’s third try for Louis Rees-Zammit.
Biggar’s brilliant side conversion made it 25-14 and the celebration that greeted Rees Lightning’s strike was dwarfed by the celebration that erupted after Adams’ thunderous tackle on Selesitino Ravautumada.
There was a sense that it would be against Wales the next day and Dee’s 65th-minute strike confirmed that, although there was still time for tries from substitutes Josua Tuisova and Mesaka Doge to make it a real cliffhanger.