OITA — Winger Josh Adams grabbed a hat-trick of tries as a battered and bruised Wales battled to a 29-17 bonus-point win over Fiji on Wednesday to book their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
In a frenzied clash under the roof at Oita Stadium, Warren Gatland’s team lost talismanic flyhalf Dan Biggar to a head injury for a second time in the tournament shortly after the Fijians surged into the lead early in the second half of the Pool D clash.
A penalty try to Fiji produced a huge scare for Welsh fans who hold bitter memories of the “Nightmare in Nantes” when the Pacific islanders knocked them out of the 2007 World Cup.
But Adams steadied the ship with his hat-trick try on the hour-mark and fullback Liam Williams crossed 12 minutes from the siren to settle the game.
The result ensured Wales, with 14 points, leapfrogged Australia (11 points) to top the pool ahead of their final clash against emerging nation Uruguay.
But the Welsh, with England or France awaiting them in the quarterfinals, will be counting the cost, with Adams and Jonathan Davies also suffering injuries.
Wales had been rejuvenated after a 10-day break and, having enjoyed fast starts in their wins over Georgia and Australia, coach Warren Gatland had asked for another in Oita.
Instead, it was Fiji charging out of the blocks.
A penalty for offside by flanker James Davies brought the ball to the five-metre line and Fiji spread the ball wide from a scrum to winger Josua Tuisova, who bashed through Adams and Biggar to plant the ball next to the right corner flag.
Wales responded immediately when backrower Josh Navidi went over after a turnover, but the try was cancelled by the TMO due to a knock-on. Fiji crossed again moments later, but scrumhalf Frank Lomani’s try was also scratched by the TMO after a forward pass.
Worse was to come for Wales when hooker Ken Owens was yellow-carded in the eighth minute for flipping number eight Viliame Mata on his back in an ugly tackle.
The barnstorming Semi Radradra, named player of the match, made Wales pay at once, setting up a try for fullback Kini Murimurivalu in the right corner.