Much to the annoyance of England fans, Wales edged further towards the next round of the Rugby World Cup with a victory over a stubborn Fijian side. While Welsh fans will undoubtedly be smiling about the result, there were some reasons for concern though, as the Welsh team didn’t put in the kind of performance that would have other teams fearing them.
Wales certainly started the match well, and it took only 7 minutes for them to get the ball across the try line. With a sublime dummy, Gareth Davies got between the posts to place the ball down, before Dan Biggar converted to make the score 7-0. Fiji hit back immediately with a penalty though, before then starting to look increasingly threatening.
For much of the rest of the half the game ebbed and flowed, with both sides having chances to score. Just before the break, Wales established an advantage though, with Baldwin bustling over the try line. They’d broken the stubborn Fijian resistance and Welsh fans would have hoped that they’d go on to establish their dominance in the second half.
It was Fiji who looked more dangerous after the break though, running at the Welsh defence with aggression and intent. Eventually the pressure paid off, and in some style. Govana finished a sublime 60m move from the Fijians, before Volavola converted. Wales’ lead was now down to 4 points, and fans were starting to fear a shock result.
Neither team managed to get over the try line again though, and two penalties from Biggar stretched Wales’ lead to ten points. The game ended 23-13, although the match was closer than the scoreline suggests.
There was some good news for England fans though, as Wales failed to secure a bonus point against the Fijians. This now means that England don’t need a bonus point against Australia to progress – instead they simply need to win, which is a tough proposition in itself. A victory for England will leave Wales needing to beat the Australians (providing England beat Uruguay, which should be a foregone conclusion), however if England lose, Wales will progress to the next round.
So, the group is still wide open, with all three of the “big” teams in with a chance of qualifying. But who will be the unlucky one to miss out? Judging by some of the results from the World Cup so far, it is impossible to predict…