Scrappy Wales fail to fire against Fiji

An extra time penalty from Fiji secured a 16-all draw with Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night.


A penalty try awarded after just before the hour mark looked to have proved the difference and Wales looked set to claim a much-needed triumph.


But Seremaia Bai landed a injury-time penalty to clinch a draw at the death and leave Wales’ autumn campaign in tatters after three losses and the visit of New Zealand in a week.


The Dragons have not tasted victory since the 33-10 Six Nations victory over Italy in March and carried the painful memories of their 2007 World Cup exit at the hands of Fiji into the game.


On that sunny day in Nantes, Wales were sucked in to playing Fiji at their own game.


In the build-up to the clash all the talk in the Welsh camp was about the importance of securing a triumph and playing intelligent rugby.


But all that went out of the window in a loose and error-strewn encounter as Wales fell into the same trap.


The introduction of four second half replacements for Wales appeared to turn the game and secure a win after Fiji had first surged into a 13-6 half-time lead thanks to Albert Vulivuli.


But Bai’s injury-time penalty broke Welsh hearts as Fiji shared the spoils in Cardiff.


Dan Biggar landed the first points of the game with a well-struck penalty just moments after Bai hit the post with an early shot at goal. Biggar added a second on 22 minutes before Matavesi responded, with Bai in the sin-bin for an earlier dangerous tackle.


Wales were the first to threaten with a try when Hook and Bishop combined to put Brew into space. But the powerful wing was tackled just before he could return the ball to Hook to score.


But the South Sea islanders were the first to touch-down thanks to Vulivuli.


Sisa Koyamaibole, who caused Wales so many problems in 2007, made the initial break off the back of a line-out. The big no.8 was eventually hauled down by last week’s hero George North and Biggar but the ball was recycled and spread wide to the Racing Metro 92 centre how crashed through Hook to score.


Bai converted to give the visitors a 13-6 lead.


The scores remained the same for ten minutes before Warren Gatland made wholesale changes, introducing four of his big-guns in Bradley Davies, Mike Phillips, Stephen Jones and Tom Shanklin.


They had an almost immediate impact when Lee Byrne looked to have scored. Wales went through several phases attacking the Fijian line before the ball was spread to Byrne. He ignored the unmarked North outside him and looked to have scored only for TMO Daniel Gillet to rule out the effort.


Wales showed their power in the resulting scrum and were awarded a penalty try on 58 minutes after nine scrum resets.


Jones added the extras from in front of the posts to pull his side level at 13-all and just minutes later Jones gave Wales the lead with a simple penalty. But Bai struck with the final kick of the game to earn a draw for the visitors.


Dan Lydiate was awarded man of the match.


Final Score Wales 16 (6) Fiji 16 (13)


Scorers


Wales
Tries: Penalty
Penalties: Biggar 2, S Jones
Conversions: S Jones


Fiji
Tries: Vulivuli
Penalties: Baikeinuku 2, Matavesi
Conversions: Baikeinuku

Teams


Wales : Lee Byrne; George North, Andrew Bishop, James Hook, Aled Brew; Dan Biggar, Richie Rees; Adam Jones, Huw Bennett, Paul James, Ian Gough, Deiniol Jones, Ryan Jones (C), Dan Lydiate/Martyn Williams, Jonathan Thomas


Replacements: Richard Hibbard, John Yapp, Bradley Davies, Toby Faletau, Mike Phillips, Stephen Jones, Tom Shanklin


Fiji: Josh Matavesi, Michael Tagicakibau, Albert Vulivuli, Gabirieli Lovobalavu, Vereniki Goneva; Seremaia Bai, Nemia Kenatale; Campese Ma’afu, Vili Veiko

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