Wales 32-26 Fiji: Warren Gatland's side get World Cup off to a winning start

Wales winger Josh Adams
Wales head coach Warren Gatland Credit: PA

Wales got their World Cup off to a winning start, beating Fiji 32-26 in a barnstormer in Bordeaux.

Teti Tela got the match underway in hot and humid conditions in south west France.

But it was the men in red who got off to a fast start. Will Rowlands won a penalty at a breakdown after two minutes and Dan Biggar knocked over the penalty from 45 metres out.

Dan Biggar was in impressive form as he started his last major tournament with Wales. Credit: PA

Things got even better shortly after. Wales survived an assault on their line but then came alive. From a lineout on halfway, George North broke up the middle of the field and into the 22.

The ball was recycled and Liam Williams showed good composures to find Josh Adams, who stepped inside his man to score the game's opening try.

  • Warren Gatland was "delighted" with the result but "angry" at a lack of discipline

Wales' perfect start was short-lived, though. Warren Gatland's side tried to run a turnover ball out of their own half but it ended with Adams stepped out of play on the far side.

In the next move, Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu burst through two defenders and sprinted 30 metres to score. Frank Lomani added the extras.

Dan Biggar was in impressive form as he started his last major tournament with Wales. Credit: PA

Things went from bad to worse when Nayacalevu and Semi Radradra combined to carve the Welsh midfield open. It ended with Lekima Tagitagivalu running over for Fiji's second try in three minutes.

The game's first water break gave Wales time to regroup and soon after it, Biggar chipped away at the lead after Fiji were penalised for going offside.

Then Vinaya Habosi was penalised for a no-arms tackle on Liam Williams. Wales stuck it in the corner and tried to maul their way over. Ryan Elias was stopped a yard from the line but Wales kept it tight.

Eventually Fiji infringed and Wales stuck another very kickable penalty into the corner.

Wales did not have it all their own way, with Fiji finding the try line three times. Credit: PA

The maul was repelled but Nick Tompkins showed good patience to draw the defenders before sending George North through a huge gap. The centre stepped around the last defender for a simple finish and Biggar converted.

Wales survived a scare six minutes before the break, when Eroni Mawi dived over the line but lost control of the ball.

Gatland's side played with fire again just before the break and attempted to run turnover ball out from the shadow of their own posts. It almost backfired for a second time as they lost the ball but a Fijian error ended the half.

Wales led 18-14 at the break.

  • Captain Jac Morgan said his team showed a mentality of "never giving up"

At the start of the second half, Biggar missed what is a straightforward penalty by his lofty standards, missing a golden opportunity to extend the lead.

His side, though, showed far more control in the opening exchanges of the second period. They kicked more and got a foothold as a response.

Fiji were suddenly infringing regularly and their desperate defence broke with a cross-kick from an unlikely source in Jac Morgan. He found Louis Rees-Zammit and it was a simple finish for the speedster. Biggar converted from out wide.

The players on both sides felt the heat, with high temperatures in Bordeaux. Credit: PA

Wales couldn't keep Fiji quiet for long though. Lapses in concentration gave the Fijians access to the 22, where Wales had to sustain a mountain of pressure.

After a flurry of penalties, Wales were on a final warning from referee Matthew Carley and then Fiji dropped the ball over the line for a second time.

After a stunning 50:22 from Biggar, Wales then mauled towards the line but it was dragged down illegally by Lekima Tagitagivalu, who was sent to the sin bin for his troubles.

Wales went back to the corner and Elliot Dee scored as another powerful maul dragged him over the line. Biggar knocked the conversion over and Wales led 32-14 with 12 minutes to go.

There was plenty for Wales to celebrate at the final whistle. Credit: PA

But then life became a little more difficult when replacement Corey Domachowski was sent to the naughty step for taking out the scrum-half at a ruck. More indiscipline followed and eventually Wales cracked again.

This time it was Josua Tuisova who barged his way over after a period of sustained pressure and Teti Tela added the extras to make it 32-21.

More Welsh indiscipline followed as the desperately attempted to cling to the lead but Fiji came again. This time through Mesake Doge but the conversion was missed.

Wales led by six with two minutes to go.

  • Dan Biggar said it felt like the clock "never moved" in the tense final 10 minutes

Liam Williams' first mistake of the night gave Fiji a great platform to launch an attack for the win. He put a kick from his own 10 metre line out on the full and the Flying Fijians came again.

Wales' defence stood firm on the 10 metre line but eventually space was found on the far side. The ball came back to the near touchline and now Fiji were just 10 metres from Wales' line.

It looked for all money like Fiji were going to score when a pass to the far side found Radradra in space but with the try line at his mercy, he dropped the pass and Wales breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Warren Gatland has named a side with 10 Rugby World Cup debutants in his matchday 23.

Captain Jac Morgan is one of those making his first appearance in a global gathering, while centre George North takes part in his fourth.

Fly-half Biggar is the man in control of things, kicking off what while be his final campaign at Test level.

Wales: Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis; Will Rowlands, Adam Beard; Aaron Wainwright, Jac Morgan (C), Taulupe Faletau.

Reps: Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Dillon Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell, Tomos Williams, Sam Costelow, Rio Dyer.

Fiji: Ilaisa Droases; Selesitino Ravutaumada, Waisea Nayacalevu (c), Semi Radradra, Vinaya Habosi; Teti Tela, Frank Lomani; Eroni Mawi, Samuel Matavesi, Luke Tagi; Isoa Nasilasila, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta; Albert Tuisue, Lekima Tagitagivalu, Viliame Mata.

Reps: Tevita Ikanivere, Peni Ravai, Mesake Doge, Temo Mayanavanua, Levani Botia, Simione Kuruvoli, Josua Tuisova, Sireli Maqala.