Wales (17) 23
Tries: Davies, Baldwin
Conversions: Biggar 2
Penalties: Biggar 3
Fiji (6) 13
Penalties: Volavola 2
Wales remain on course to qualify for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals despite failing to grab a bonus point in an edgy victory in an entertaining encounter with Fiji at the Millennium Stadium. Tries from Gareth Davies and Scott Baldwin ensured Wales go top of Pool A ahead of England facing Australia at Twickenham but Fiji produced a spirited performance which nearly ended in a shock victory in Cardiff.
Veronica Goneva scored perhaps the try of the tournament in the second half to bring Fiji within four points, but a combination of Ben Volavola's inaccurate kicking and the reliability of opposite number Dan Biggar ensured Warren Gatland's side escaped with a much-needed victory but the failure to score four tries could yet come back to haunt them.
A win for Australia over England on Saturday [3 October] will see Wales progress to the knock-out phase. But should Stuart Lancaster's side prevail, with or without an extra point, it will leave Gatland's team facing a straight shoot-out with the Wallabies on the final weekend of the pool stage.
The euphoria at Twickenham had been replaced by expectation as Wales honed in on an unlikely place in the last eight but there was little margin for error as they sought a third pool victory to ratchet the pressure up on England and Australia. Their challenge against Fiji - one of a trio of Pacific Island nations to have defeated the Welsh in three of the last six tournaments - had been accentuated by the loss of three more players to injury; highlighting the physical after-effects from the victory over England.
With hopes of reaching the knock-out phase having been snuffed out by defeats in their opening two pool matches, Fiji were hoping to upset the odds once again by repeating their momentous victory over Wales from 2007. The absence of the cited Nemani Nadolo, the 20 stone, 6ft 3ins winger who was suspended after a tip tackle against Australia would however make that task all the more difficult.
If John McKee's side had any ambitions of praying on a Wales side still riding high on the emotion of the win over England, they were quashed inside the opening 10 minutes as George North's surge through the soft centred Fiji defence laid the platform for the opening try. Twice Wales kicked to the corner before Gareth Davies went over under the posts to calm any early tension in Cardiff.
Ben Volavola kicked a penalty as Fiji asserted themselves ominously at the set-piece, missing a second after an indiscretion at the line-out, allowing Wales to reestablished their seven-point lead when Davies converted from under the posts. The advantage should have been extended when turnover ball saw Morgan fly clear but some heroic defending from Levani Botia prevented Taupe Faletau scoring a second.
But the pressure on the Fiji line only swelled and after Wales were denied a try by the television match official, as Bradley Davies was penalised for a high tackle, the hosts added to their lead. Alun Wyn Jones and Sam Warburton both made breaks, before Baldwin scored his first international try from close range.
Without the burden of competing for a place in the quarter-finals, Fiji were typically explosive with the ball in hand, giving Wales plenty of problems on the counterattack. Yet the Fijians were also able to stem the flow with a second penalty from the scrum, with Volavola taking full advantage to keep his side in touch.
Fiji's hands in the phases had ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous in the first half; at times dazzling the Wales defence and a move started inside their own half ended with one of the tries of the competition. Asaeli Tikoirotuma broke free of the Wales defence and after Botia was stopped short, Goneva stormed over to end a stunning move.
Biggar provided some much-needed respite with a penalty but Fiji's pressure continued to come in waves and it took some desperate Wales tackling to prevent them drawing level. Eagerness to ramp up the pressure saw Fiji penalised again at the breakdown, allowing Biggar to maintain his 100% kicking record in the tournament and inspire his side to a nervy win which, despite failing to score the two tries which would have delivered a fifth point, leaves their destiny in their own hands.
Wales: 15. Matthew Morgan, 14. Alex Cuthbert, 13. Tyler Morgan, 12. Jamie Roberts, 11. George North, 10. Dan Biggar, 9. Gareth Davies, 1. Gethin Jenkins, 2. Scott Baldwin, 3. Tom Francis, 4. Bradley Davies, 5. Alun Wyn Jones, 6. Dan Lydiate, 7. Sam Warburton, 8. Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: 16. Ken Owens, 17. Aaron Jarvis, 18. Samson Lee, 19. Luke Charteris, 20. Justin Tipuric, 21. Lloyd Williams, 22. Rhys Priestland, 23. James Hook.
Fiji: 15. Metuisela Talebula, 14. Timoci Nagusa, 13. Vereniki Goneva, 12. Lepani Botia, 11. Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10. Ben Volavola, 9. Nemia Kenatale; 1. Campese Ma'afu, 2. Sunia Koto, 3. Manasa Saulo, 4. Tevita Cavubati, 5. Leone Nakarawa, 6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 7. Akapusi Qera, 8. Netani Talei.
Replacements: 16. Viliame Veikoso, 17. Peni Ravia, 18. Leeroy Atalifo, 19. Nemia Soqeta, 20. Malakai Ravulo, 21. Henry Seniloli, 22. Joshua Matavesi, 23. Kini Murimurivalu.