Wales must lift again for Fiji

2015-09-29 17:49
Warren Gatland (Gallo)

Cardiff - A patched-up Wales will need to summon up a second big performance in five days on Thursday against a Fiji team that have proved they are no Pool A pushovers if they are to ensure their win over England was no pyrrhic victory.

Warren Gatland's side are already assured of a place in the pantheon of Welsh rugby after last Saturday's Twickenham heroics but a spot in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals could still evade them if they fail to beat the Pacific Islanders.

The 28-25 victory over the hosts came at the cost of three more injuries to a squad that could ill-afford them ahead of what will be bruising contest against the Fijians.

Still, if Wales can produce a result more reminiscent of the 66-0 hammering they handed the Fijians at the 2011 World Cup than the 38-34 upset they suffered at the 2007 tournament, they will be in a very strong position.

Not only will they be able to put their feet up and watch England and Australia knock spots off each other on Saturday but they will have nine days to patch up their wounds before their final pool match against the Wallabies back at Twickenham.

"The whole focus is preparing for Fiji - we know how important it is," Gatland told reporters in Cardiff on Tuesday.

"We have to put Saturday behind us. It's incredibly important to get a result on Thursday and if do that we're in the box seat a bit more."

Gatland made only enforced changes to his team for the Millennium Stadium clash (kickoff 15:45 GMT), bringing a couple of Morgans, Matthew and Tyler, into the backline in place of a couple of injured Williams, fullback Liam and centre Scott.

Alex Cuthbert was elevated from the bench to replace injured youngster Hallam Amos on the wing, while the experienced James Hook will cover the back three from the bench after his call-up on Monday.

The disciplinary committee has been as much of a problem as the casualty list for Fiji but coach John McKee was confident his side would put up a third good showing after giving scares to England and Australia.

Aseli Tikoirotuma comes in for goal-kicking winger Nemani Nadolo, who was banned for a week for a dangerous tackle during the defeat to Australia, but the loss of livewire scrumhalf Nikola Matawalu to a back injury might prove more costly.

"We have good depth in our squad and it is a very strong team we have picked for this game and we believe it is one that will be especially suited to playing against Wales," said McKee.


Wales: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan  Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tom Francis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Gethin Jenkins

Substitutes: 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, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Akapusi Qera (c), 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Campese Maafu

Substitutes 6 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Peni Ravia, 18 Leeroy Atalifo, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Malakai Ravulo, 21 Henry Seniloli, 22 Joshua Matavesi, 23 Kini Murimurivalu

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