OITA – Wales rallied to reach the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals beating Fiji 29-17 in an action-packed Pool D match on Wednesday.
There were seven tries, four of which were ruled out, five decisions from the Television Match Official, and three yellow cards.
And that was just the first half.
The Six Nations champion hit back from 10-0 down, and meets either England or France in the quarterfinals. Fiji’s defeat also advanced Australia to the quarterfinals.
The Flying Fijians are going home but going out in style.
Wales left winger Josh Adams scored a hat trick of tries — and had another ruled out — but only five points separated the teams with about 10 minutes left. Then fullback Liam Williams gave Wales breathing space with a converted try. Center Jonathan Davies created it with a brilliant backhand offload.
Earlier in the second half, his younger brother James Davies got sin-binned on his World Cup debut at flanker.
It a chaotic first half, referee Jerome Garces referred five of the seven tries to video review. Three were ruled out — two by Wales, one by Fiji.
Another try, scored by Fiji No. 8 Viliame Mata late in the half, didn’t need the TMO because the forward pass to him was so evident.
Adams crossed three times in the first half, but one got chalked off. So was a try by Wales flanker Josh Navidi disallowed.
The two Fiji first-half tries that counted went to right winger Josua Tuisova and fullback Kini Murimurivalu inside eight minutes, by which time Fiji scrumhalf Frank Lomani had one ruled out by TMO after a forward pass from left winger Semi Radradra.
Added to that, there were three first-half sinbins: Two for Fiji, after Wales hooker Ken Owens got his early on for dangerously launching Mata over his shoulder.
The restart saw the TMO used yet again, this time denying Radradra a try in the left corner because of a forward pass from Murimurivalu.
Mindful of needing four tries and a bonus point, Fiji stormed forward again and, after Wales flanker James Davies got the game’s fourth yellow card, Fiji took a lineout and speared Wales with a huge driving maul for a penalty try.
Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar, who converted his side’s first-half tries, went off for a head injury assessment during the new half. He also went off for an HIA during the 29-25 win against Australia, and was recently cleared to play this match.
His replacement, Rhys Patchell, booted over a long penalty to level the match with about 20 minutes remaining.
Ten minutes later, the elder Davies launched Adams into the left corner.
Try, Mister Garces?
Yes, but only after another TMO review confirmed Adams was in bounds.
Patchell’s conversion attempt missed.
When Williams ran clear, the red-shirted Welsh hordes could finally roar with relief.
They had been tense all game.
The first Fiji try came only three minutes in.
Lomani fed Tuisova and he broke three tackles, with the MO showing he just got the ball down in the right corner.
Wales had a try ruled out three minutes later, when center Hadleigh Parkes was adjudged to have knocked on when robbing Murimurivalu in the buildup before Navidi galloped clear.
Then Fiji had one chalked off one minute later, and then Owens got sinbinned.
The 33,000 fans at Oita Stadium were getting their money’s worth.
Defending against a Fiji side in this mood with 15 players is hard enough, so with 14 it’s another level of torment.
Fiji punished Wales immediately, gliding swiftly from left to right as Radradra fed Murimurivalu a looping pass in the right corner.
No TMO this time, Garces instantly raised his hand. But flyhalf Ben Volavola missed another conversion.
Fiji’s attacking brilliance comes with large doses of indiscipline, however. Lock Tevita Cavubati got carelessly sin-binned for diving into the ruck with his shoulder, and Biggar set up Adams in the left corner with a kick over the defense for a converted score in the 17th.
Following sustained pressure, scrumhalf Gareth Davies fed Adams and he found the left corner in the 27th. Garces called for another TMO review, and it was ruled that Adams’ foot was out of touch.
But, after Fiji flanker Semi Kunatani was sin-binned, Adams soon finished off a slick four-man passing move and Biggar converted from far out left for 14-10.
A man down, yet Fiji still finished the half on top.
Exhausted by their own relentless running, they were worn out when Wales eventually stepped up a gear after the break.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5