Flying Fijians fall in thriller

A brave comeback by the Fiji Water Flying Fijians was not enough as they went down 32-26 to Wales in their opening Rugby World Cup match at Stade De Bordeaux in France.

It was a match that lived up to expectations with both sides giving their all for 80 minutes with two disallowed tries.

Fiji’s bench really raised the bar with their efforts when they came on and nearly pulled off a memorable victory.

The French fans got behind Fiji right from the start and never lost their voice.

Fiji was penalized less than a minute into the match when Albert Tuisue failed to release the ball after a tackle was made, Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar made no mistake with his shot at goal.

Winger Josh Adams punished Fiji with their first try in the corner after Semi Radradra missed a tackle in midfield.

However, the national side managed to put a few phases together inside the opposition territory after Teti Tela missed a penalty before captain Waisea Nayacalevu sliced through the defensive line to score.

Frank Lomani converted the try but after two minutes Nayacalevu and Radradra combined for a spectacular converted try to Lekima Tagitagivalu.

Fiji was penalized in the 22nd minute for offside with Biggar slotting another three points for a 14-11 lead to Fiji.

Wales camped inside Fiji’s 22 meter line for about five minutes following repeated penalties before the experienced George North was rewarded with a try in the 27th minute.

Prop Eroni Mawi had a try disallowed by the Television Match Official close to halftime which many fans at Stade De Bordeaux disagreed with.

Fiji’s efforts to add more points in the dying stages of the first half failed with a loose carry and a turnover.

It was a slow start after the break with Wales testing Fiji with high balls which paid off when speedster Louis Rees-Zamit diving over in the corner after Vinaya Habosi failed to control a cross field kick.

Head coach Simon Raiwalui made a tactical change with Radradra moving to the wing and Josua Tuisova coming in at inside center.

Simione Kuruvoli also replaced Lomani at halfback 10 minutes into the second half.

Wales controlled the tempo in the second spell with his kicking game and put Fiji under pressure.

Levani Botia came off the bench with Peni Ravai and immediately made an impact.

Botia nearly scored shortly after coming on but lost the ball on the tryline and Nayacalevu also had a loose carry two minutes later before replacement hooker Elliot Dee put the result beyond doubt in the 64th minute with a try.

The Nayacalevu captained side was completely shut down by Wales in the first 15 minutes of the second half but Viliame Mata was massive for Fiji all night.

Tagitagivalu was sent off to bin and Wales also lost a player for indiscipline.

Tuisova bulldozed his way through the tryline with less than 10 minutes to play.

Mesake Doge crashed through the big Welsh forwards with two minutes left

Ravai also had his try disallowed by the TMO.

A late surge by the national side was not enough as Wales hung to win 32-26.

Fiji will play Australia next Sunday at Saint Etienne.