wales-stutter-to-victory-over-14-man-fiji

Wales stutter to victory over 14-man Fiji

Despite facing 14 men for 56 minutes – and 13 men for 20 of those minutes – Wales relied on an Alex Cuthbert try with just 13 minutes to go to beat Fiji in Cardiff after Eroni Sau’s red card; Waisea Nayacalevu twice put Fiji ahead, in either half, but their indiscipline proved too much

Last Updated: 14/11/21 5:33pm

    Alex Cuthbert scored a crucial try as Wales stuttered to victory past 14-man Fiji

    Alex Cuthbert scored a crucial try as Wales stuttered to victory past 14-man Fiji

    Wales relied on an Alex Cuthbert try with 13 minutes left to hit the front and beat 14-man Fiji 38-23 in Cardiff.

    Fiji stunned Wales with a try after just four minutes as they struck from their first attack.

    The ball was moved at a rapid rate of knots, number eight Viliame Mata delivered a superb pass to skipper Waisea Nayacalevu and the centre sprinted over, with Ben Volavola converting.

    Wales’ troubles did not end there either, as WillGriff John was forced off injured – he was replaced by Dillon Lewis – and Volavola kicked a penalty as Fiji moved 10-0 ahead.

    Waisea Nayacalevu scored two tries on the day, but Fiji just fell short

    Waisea Nayacalevu scored two tries on the day, but Fiji just fell short

    But the home side then opened their account through an 11th-minute touchdown for hooker Ryan Elias as Fiji’s forwards were driven backwards from a lineout before Dan Biggar’s conversion made it 10-7.

    John failed a head injury assessment, meaning Lewis became a permanent replacement, but Fiji soon encountered major problems.

    Wing Eroni Sau was sent off by referee Nic Berry following a swinging arm hit to Wales centre Johnny Williams’ head.

    Eroni Sau was red carded for head contact just 24 minutes into the Test

    Eroni Sau was red carded for head contact just 24 minutes into the Test

    Berry had a lengthy discussion with television match official Stuart Terheege, having initially looked at issuing a yellow card, but a red was unquestionably the correct decision.

    Wales exerted relentless pressure as the interval approached and Fiji were reduced to 13 players when flanker Albert Tuisue was sin-binned for a technical infringement.

    And the home side pounced from close range, with scrum-half Kieran Hardy darting over for a try that Biggar converted.

    Kieran Hardy put Wales ahead on the stroke of half-time, with Fiji reduced to 13 men

    Kieran Hardy put Wales ahead on the stroke of half-time, with Fiji reduced to 13 men

    Wales thought they had added a third try on the stroke of half-time after wing Louis Rees-Zammit caught Biggar’s kick and sprinted clear, but the ball had drifted over the touchline during build-up play and the score was disallowed, meaning Wales had a 14-13 lead at the break.

    Despite their numerical disadvantage, though, Fiji regained the lead three minutes into the second period when Volavola kicked a 45-metre penalty.

    Pivac began to make changes, sending on Ospreys prop Gareth Thomas and Cardiff scrum-half Tomos Williams, before Volavola should have extended Fiji’s lead, but he drifted a penalty attempt wide.

    But the visitors did not have to wait much longer for a second try as a brilliant move from deep inside their own half was finished by Nayacalevu and Volavola’s successful touchline conversion made it 23-14.

    Fiji had a second player sin-binned – substitute prop Eroni Mawi – and Wales pounced immediately as Elias swept over for his second try, making it 23-19 with 17 minutes left.

    Wales hooker Ryan Elias scored two tries in the unconvincing victory

    Wales hooker Ryan Elias scored two tries in the unconvincing victory

    Wales now had momentum and Cuthbert put his team ahead when he finished brilliantly in the corner 13 minutes from time.

    But the best was yet to come from Wales when Rees-Zammit won a 60-metre race for a touchdown from his own kick, displaying blistering pace, and substitute Callum Sheedy converted.

    It finally broke Fiji, and Wales were able to post a 38-23 victory following successive defeats against New Zealand and South Africa when full-back Liam Williams touched down and Sheedy converted.