After the joy of last weekend Wales came down with a bump thanks to a bruising encounter with the Fijians. I’m writing this on Thursday evening, so injury news hasn’t arrived but it was worrying to see our reliable kicker Dan Biggar limping off, especially as his replacement is the distinctly less reliable Rhys Priestland.
Wales started the game strongly, attacking the Fiji try line and putting on the pressure, and it told when Gareth Davies cleverly went it alone from a ruck at the foot of the posts, getting over for his fourth of the tournament.
But Wales sloppily gave away a few penalties, mainly due to a crumbling scrum and some basic errors. It was distressing to watch, even though we never surrendered the lead. Just after the half hour hooker Scott Baldwin completed a good move for the second Welsh try and at the break Wales led 17-6.
It would be the last home try of the match, in fact, Wales would only add 6 more points, all from the boot of Biggar. Tries could have come if not for silly, simple errors. Some blame must be laid at the feet of Gareth Davies, who succumbed to “white line fever” trying to go alone for glory when a pass might have cut through the Fijian defence.
Fiji actually won the second period 7-6, after a try which showed their strengths and Welsh weaknesses. A Welsh attack stalled after Cuthbert knocked on, the visitors gathered and went the length of the field, carving through the Welsh defence who stood off far too much. Goneva’s try was the best of the match and set up a tense finish.
For the second match in a row I finished it at the edge of my seat, but the feeling at the final whistle wasn’t an explosion of joy but rather mere relief which gave way to frustration. I know we’re blighted by injuries, but we still have to do better. Bigger, tougher teams are coming and if we play this sloppily we will pay for it.
There were a couple of bright spots- George North had a couple of runs, Taulupe Faletau was solid and Gareth Davies was, greediness aside, decent. Coming off the bench Luke Charteris played well.
And I suppose a win is a win and it sets up England vs Australia to be a cracker. England must win or face an early exit which will sting on home turf.
On Saturday I will cheer for Australia, as a victory for them guarantees Wales a place in the quarter finals. The fact that I’ll enjoy England losing is just a bonus.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to ask every god I can think of to let Biggar be okay.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.