Wales Rugby League



REPORT - Fiji 72 Wales 6

5th November 2017, 09:10

REPORT - Fiji 72 Wales 6

Wales’ 17-year wait for a World Cup finals win continues after being pounded for the second week in a row, this time by an outstanding Fiji side in Townsville.


By Ian Golden in Townsville


Wales’ 17-year wait for a World Cup finals win continues after being pounded for the second week in a row, this time by an outstanding Fiji side in Townsville.

  It was the first time the two sides had met and the 72-6 scoreline was a record World Cup defeat for Wales, beating their defeat in Port Morseby last week.

  The Welsh needed to put their poor performance against PNG out of the window and for the first ten minutes or so, it wasn’t going that badly. But after Fiji’s third and then fourth try were scored, the Dragons’ fire was extinguished.

  Heat wasn’t a major factor yesterday, they were simply outclassed by a rampant Fiji side who are genuine contenders for a third successive World Cup semi-final. It was still quite warm but as the game was played in temperatures of the mid to late 20s, it was probably the coolest the Wales players had been for over a week.

  John Kear also made a few changes after delivering an honest statement of his side’s failings the week before, Christiaan Roets started the game instead of his fellow South Wales club man Andrew Gay, and in winning his 24th cap, overtook Lee Briers to move into fifth place in the Wales caps chart. Rhys Williams, winning his 26th cap, drew level with the late great Jim Sullivan in third place, just four caps behind both Jordan James and Ian Watson. Dalton Grant replaced Matt Seamark in the halves with Danny Ansell on the bench whilst the enforced changes due to injury saw Joe Burke and Matty Barron come into the team.

  Both teams had a solid first five minutes. Fiji came into the game on the back of a heavy win over the USA, their confidence didn’t need lifting, but Wales needed not to concede early. Unfortunately for them that didn’t happen. Their first error came with five minutes gone as Wales perhaps needlessly gave away a goal-line drop-out and Fiji made them pay, Eloni Venukece going in under the sticks and Apisai Koroisau converting.

  Wales hit back straight away. Morgan Knowles celebrated his 21st birthday in style by diving under the posts after being set up nicely by Craig Kopczak. Courtney Davies converted to level it up at 6-6 on 12 minutes.

  It wasn’t level for long. Saliasi Venivalu shoved Elliot Kear out of the way to ground in the corner for Fiji’s second try, Koroisau’s goal attempt sweeping past the left post.

  They increased their lead from kick-off. Salesi Faingaa created the move with a fine run. He slipped the ball to Jarryd Hayne who in turn set up Henry Raiwalui to go in under the black dot making it easy for Koroisau to improve the try.

  The fourth try came on 21 minutes. Viliame Kikau outslipped his markers to burst over in the corner, Koroisau converting well to make it 22-6.

  Fiji’s fifth had to go to video referee Phil Bentham and after studying it for some time for a potential knock-on, Salesi Faingaa’s score was rightfully given. No problems again with Koroisau’s conversion.

  A lovely bit of skill from Hayne created Fiji’s sixth as he opened up the Welsh defence to allow Taane Milne to easily run through. Koroisau’s goal attempt hitting the post.

  Wales’ heads were down and they could no longer cope with the skilful Fijians. Akuila Uate was far too strong for Wales and his moved deserved to have his own name on the scoresheet. Instead he nicely set up Marcelo Montoya to score in the corner. Koroisau kicking wide on this occasion.

  Fiji scored their eighth try of the half on the hooter when Kikau scored his second of the game which Milne improved.

  Vunivalu set up Hayne for Fiji’s ninth just after the restart with Milne converting and it took ten minutes for Vunivalu to get the tenth. Milne converted before adding Fiji’s 11th of the game, Vunivalu’s hat-trick was their 12th and Joe Lovada’s run that beat all the tiring Welsh was their 13th, still with 15 minutes to go. Vunivalu added the latest goal.

  Wales took a short kick-off after that try but it didn’t stop Petero Benjamin Nakubuwai getting their 14th try. They tried the same trick on the next kick-off and this time regained the ball.

  Knowles’ sin bin for fighting with five minutes to go was just to rub salt in the wounds in a forgettable World Cup for the Welsh.




1   Kevin Naiqama (Captain) (Wests Tigers)

2   Suliasi Vunivalu (Melbourne Storm)

3   Taane Milne (St George-Illawarra Dragons)

4   Akuila Uate (Manly-Sea Eagles)

5   Marcelo Montoya (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

6   Jarryd Hayne (Gold Coast Titans)

7   Henry Raiwalui (Brisbane Broncos)

8   Ashton Sims (Warrington Wolves)

9   Apisai Koroisau (Manly Sea Eagles)

10  Eloni Vunakece (Sydney Roosters)

11  Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers)

20  Salesi Faingaa (Parramatta Eels)

13  Tui Kamikamica (Melbourne Storm)

Subs (all used):

14  Joe Lovodua (St George-Illawarra Dragons)

15  Jacob Saifiti (Newcastle Knights)

16  Junior Roqica (London Broncos)

17  Ben Nakubuwai (Gold Coast Titans)


Tries: Venukece (6), Venivalu (14, 52, 61), Raiwalui (17), Kikau (21, 40) Faingaa (27), Milne (31, 56), Montoya (35), Hayne (42), Lovadua (65), Nakubuwai (70)

Goals: Koroisau 4/6, Milne 3/6, Vunivalu 1/2




1   Elliot Kear (London Broncos)

2   Rhys Williams (London Broncos)

3   Michael Channing (London Broncos)

4   Christiaan Roets (South Wales Ironmen)

5   Regan Grace (St Helens)

6   Courtney Davies (Gloucestershire All Golds)

17  Dalton Grant (London Broncos)

8  Craig Kopczak (Salford Red Devils) (C)

9  Steve Parry (Gloucestershire All Golds)

10  Philip Joseph (Workington Town)

11   Rhodri Lloyd (Swinton Lions)

12   Joe Burke (Oldham)

13  Morgan Knowles (St Helens)

Subs (all used):

7  Danny Ansell (Hunslet)

14  Matty Fozard (Sheffield Eagles)

15  Matthew Barron (Newcastle Thunder)

16  Ben Evans (London Broncos)


Tries: Knowles (11)

Goals: Davies 1/1

Sin-bin: Knowles (75, fighting)



Referee: Chris Kendall (England)

Half-time: 42-6

Attendance: 7,732