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Fiji beat Wales 16-16

19th November 2010 15:33

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Held: Wales and Fiji draw

Wales had to settle for a 16-16 draw against Fiji in Cardiff, but the islanders will consider Friday's result as another huge victory.

The talk before the game had been of restoring morale after defeats by Australia and South Africa, in preparation for the visit of New Zealand next week.

But Welsh spirits will be close to rock-bottom after this woeful display - disjoined and error-strewn, lacking in direction and purpose, Wales only avoided a defeat thanks to their dominance at the scrum.

Seremeia Bai kicked an injury-time penalty to earn Fiji a draw which was the very least their spirit and ambition deserved. Had they possessed a decent front row, they probably would have won comfortably.

Wales edged ahead after six minutes through a Dan Biggar penalty and attempted to play the tight, controlled game which Warren Gatland had demanded.

But there were too many errors to take advantage of a clear dominance at the breakdown and Wales quickly became bogged down.

Bai levelled the scores after an obstruction at the ruck and although Biggar kicked another penalty for a spear-tackle on Aled Brew which earned Bai a yellow card, Josh Matavesi levelled the scores soon afterwards.

And it was Fiji who went in ahead at the break after taking advantage of the half's only clear-cut chance.

Wales lost a lineout in their own 22 and Sisa Koyamaibole rumbled to within five metres of the line. The ball was shipped out wide and Albert Vulivuli brushed aside James Hook's attempted tackle to crash over, with the returning Bai adding he extras.

Wales changed a third of their side on 50 minutes and it paid almost immediate dividends.

They wasted a clear overlap as Lee Byrne was adjudged to have been short as he slid towards the line, but the subsequent 5m scrum eventually produced a try.

After a free-kick, repeated re-sets and two penalties, the referee's patience was exhausted and he awarded a penalty try, Stephen Jones levelling the scores.

Wales dominated from there on but had only a Jones penalty to show for it and they paid the price.

The forwards were attempting to run down the clock with repeated pick and drives in midfield, but were penalised for failing to release.

That set up a final attack for Fiji inside the Welsh 22 - virtually their only visit of the half - and after an offside around the ruck, Bai slotted over a straightforward penalty with the last kick of the match.

Man of the match: George North looked Wales' most threatening attacking force on only his second international appearance, but flanker Dan Lydiate was probably the best player on the pitch. A workaholic attitude that too few of his colleagues matched.

Moment of the match: Seremaia Bai's injury-time penalty that broke Welsh hearts as Fiji shared the spoils in Cardiff.

Villain of the match: Poor Ryan Jones. It was the Wales captain who crept offside which allowed Bai to land the penalty to salvage a draw for the Islanders.

The scorers:

For Wales:
Try: Penalty try
Con: S Jones
Pens: Biggar 2, S Jones

For Fiji:
Try: Vulivuli
Con: Baikeinuku
Pens: Baikeinuku 2, Matavesi

Wales: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 George North, 13 James Hook, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Richie Rees,8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Dan Lydiate, 6 Ryan Jones (c), 5 Deiniol Jones, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Paul James.
Replacements:16 Richard Hibbard, 17 John Yapp, 18 Bradley Davies, 19 Toby Faletau, 20 Mike Phillips, 21 Stephen Jones, 22 Tom Shanklin.

Fiji: 15 Josh Matavesi, 14 Michael Tagicakibau, 13 Albert Vulivuli, 12 Gabriele Lovobalavu, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Seremaia Baï, 9 Nemia Kenatale, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Malakai Ravulo, 6 Semisi Saukawa, 5 Jone Qovu, 4 Ifereimi Rawaqa,3 Deacon Manu (c), 2 Viliame Veikoso, 1 Campese Ma'afu.
Replacements: 16 Tuapati Talemaitoga, 17 Graham Dewes, 18 Sekonaia Kalou, 19 Akapusi Qera , 20 Seveci Taka, 21 Ropate Ratu, 22 Taniela Rawaqa.

Referee: Jérôme Garces (France)

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Saturday , November 8
France vs Fiji16:45
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Wales vs Fiji14:30
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PosTeamPPts
1South Africa418
2Wales415
3Samoa410
4Fiji45
5Namibia40