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Wales v Fiji

Back-row pair Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau both won their 50th caps as Wales sought to build on beating England in their World Cup Pool A clash against Fiji in Cardiff.

Wales made three changes to the side which had triumphed at Twickenham on Saturday, all enforced in the back division as full-back Matthew Morgan and centre Tyler Morgan made their first World Cup starts and Alex Cuthbert returned on the wing.

Liam Williams, Hallam Amos and Scott Williams had all picked up injuries in Wales' 28-25 victory over England, the last two ruled out of the rest of the tournament.

Fiji were without suspended wing Nemani Nadolo and injured scrum-half Niko Matawalu as coach John McKee made six changes from the side which had lost to Australia in Cardiff eight days ago.

Wales were on a high after stunning England with their late Twickenham rally to put themselves in a strong position to qualify for the quarter-finals.

But they had to cope with the demands of a five-day turnaround against opponents who had knocked them out of the 2007 World Cup in France.

Any home anxiety, however, was calmed by a scything break from wing George North which set up a period of instant pressure on the Fijian line.

It ended with Fiji conceding a seventh-minute free-kick at a scrum and from Faletau's quick tap the ball was recycled for Gareth Davies, the try-scoring hero of Twickenham, to sneak over under the posts for Dan Biggar to convert.

Fiji's first task was to gain some possession and they caused a few Welsh alarms bell to ring by demolishing a home scrum 40 metres out.

Ben Volavola dispatched the penalty with some aplomb and Wales, so afflicted by injuries before and during this tournament, were forced into another change as Luke Charteris came on as a blood replacement for Bradley Davies.

Wales were soon guilty of further indiscipline but Volavola pushed a more straightforward kick than his first attempt wide of the post, and they were punished when Davies' sniping break gave Biggar a simple penalty for a 10-3 lead.

HT: Wales 17 Fiji 6

Fiji were taking the game to Wales but turnover ball almost led to a length-of-the-field home try as Matthew Morgan showed his noted running skills.

Morgan broke through and made 60 metres before finding the supporting Gareth Davies, but Faletau was taken down just short of the Fijian line and referee John Lacey's whistle gave the Pacific Islanders some breathing space.

Wales were soon camped on the Fiji line again and North felt he might have squeezed over in the corner.

But a visit to the television match official revealed that Bradley Davies, back in the fray after his bloody nose, had grabbed Fiji number eight Netani Talei around the neck in a ruck and Welsh momentum was halted.

It was not for long, though, as Biggar's dexterity allowed Gethin Jenkins and Alun Wyn Jones to charge through and, when the ball came back to the left, the outside-half was again influential in finding space out wide.

Wales attacked from close range again and this time Scott Baldwin detected the smallest of gaps, the hooker just about placing the ball on the line for his first Test try and Biggar converting for a 17-3 lead.

Fiji gave warning of their threat from deep to win a penalty and Volavola reduced the deficit two minutes before the break.

Intro: Wales scored two first-half tries to take a 17-6 interval lead against Fiji in their World Cup Pool A match at Cardiff.

Gareth Davies, the try-scoring hero at Twickenham in Wales' weekend victory over England, and Scott Baldwin scored as the hosts held a physical edge against the Pacific Islanders.

Fiji had to defend for long periods of an entertaining 40 minutes but responded with two Ben Volavola penalties.

Wales could be satisfied with most of their first-half work but the scrum was a constant concern, and Fiji enjoyed further success in that department on the resumption.

It gave them the platform to enjoy some territory but Fiji were literally paying the penalty for the absence of regular goal-kicker Nadolo as Volavola missed his second straightforward attempt.

But Wales were not to escape again after Cuthbert had failed to accept an interception opportunity, Fiji punishing the hosts for falling off tackles in spectacular style.

Asaeli Tikoirotuma's break had the Welsh defence scampering back towards their own line but they could not hold out as Vereniki Goneva crashed over.

Volavola converted and Wales' lead was down to four points with a sense of growing nervousness sweeping around the Millennium Stadium.

Wales were desperate to regain some control and Akapusi Qera's handling on the floor allowed Biggar to dispatch a penalty for a 20-13 lead.

FT: Wales 23 Fiji 13

Fiji were really ramping it up in the final quarter as they sensed a World Cup shock to match the one they produced against Wales in Nantes eight years ago.

Wales were tackling as if their lives depended on it and there was concern when key man Biggar was left holding his shoulder after one frantic piece play.

The Fijian stranglehold was finally lifted as Wales won a couple of penalties and Ken Owens almost got over in the corner, the replacement hooker running out of space after skipper Sam Warburton had gone down the blindside from a line-out.

But Jamie Roberts' charge down behind the Fiji line created another opportunity and an infringement at the breakdown allowed Biggar to give Wales the breathing space of a 10-point lead.

Fiji needed two scores to win but they spurned a kickable penalty and the play became increasingly broken up with speed rather than structure dominating a breathless contest.

Wales' rolling maul finally put the squeeze on Fiji and man-of-the-match Gareth Davies sniped for the line, but the TMO adjudged that scrum-half had been held up with Talei appearing to get his hand under the ball.

Fiji could not break away in the closing stages and Wales closed out a victory which edges them nearer a quarter-final spot.

INTRO: Wales survived a second-half scare to beat Fiji 23-13 in Cardiff and move to the top of Pool A.

Warren Gatland's side failed to claim the bonus-point victory which would have taken them further away from England after their Twickenham victory last weekend.

But the win will be most welcome for Wales, especially as Fiji fought back from a 17-6 interval deficit, and they now have a seven-point lead over an England side who simply must beat Australia on Saturday to have a shot at making the last eight.


From Belfast Telegraph