Fiji’s World Cup fizzled out in the Hamilton rain. They were unable to match the weekend bravura of Samoa and Tonga as Wales ambled into the quarter-finals with a record number of tries in the group stage, 23, and a record victory over the islanders.
Wales led 31-0 at half-time and it was all too easy at times in conditions far removed from Nantes four years before, when Fiji had claimed a place in the quarter-finals at Wales’s expense. Sun then, rain today.
Some of Wales’s tries were ludicrously simple. Fiji may be renowned for their hard running and big hitting but their minds looked far away from Hamilton on six minutes when they lost their own line-out after a weak penalty kick to touch and Jamie Roberts scored without a defender touching him.
Fiji had a couple of rumbles through their wings, but they struggled to hold on to the ball and they too often regarded tackling as an occupational hazard. Wales’s second try came after Rhys Priestland and Jamie Roberts freed George North inside his own half and the wing found Scott Williams who skipped out of a tackle and scored from 50 metres.
It was too easy at times. After Priestland had made it 17-0 with a penalty, Wales become loose and, at times, haphazard, as if caught between wanting to run from everywhere against demoralised opponents and recognising the need not to depart radically from their usual game ahead of the weekend’s quarter-final.
The burly North was causing panic when he had the ball and he scored his third try in a week when he broke two tackles, although Huw Bennett had fed him with a forward pass. Sam Warburton secured the bonus point, the officials missing another forward pass, before the break after Fiji again blew a line-out.
Roberts’s second try, after 50 minutes, was scored after a forward pass was again missed and the crowd jeered the referee Wayne Barnes. Luke Charteris, Leigh Halfpenny, Jonathan Davies and Lloyd Williams completed the scoring, nine tries complemented by nine conversions, but Wales finished with 14 men after Gethin Jenkins and Warburton left the field together with injuries.
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