Date: 2nd October 2011
Time: 06:00 BST (18:00 NZST)
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Referee: Wayne Barnes (ENG)
Strangely enough Wales find themselves in a very similar position to the one they were in four years ago in France. Warren Gatland’s team go into their final group game needing a result against Fiji. That thrilling 34-38 loss at the last World Cup to the Pacific Islanders, lives long in the memory, but Sunday In Hamilton is as good time as any to start putting the ghosts of Nantes to rest. The men in red have a slightly shorter game turnaround than in previous weeks, albeit they coasted through against a clearly tired team of mostly part-timers, in Namibia on Monday.
Fiji will be very disappointed with how their World Cup campaign has panned out. The flying Fijians have been out played by both South Africa and their Polynesian rivals Samoa. A comfortable opening victory over Namibia will be little consolation, as they head into their final fixture with only pride to play for. The islanders have struggled to build on their impressive showing at the 2007 Cup, with more troughs than peaks, but Sunday represents an excellent opportunity to once again demonstrate why they are most rugby supporters second favourite team.
What to Expect:
Fiji love to play with ball in hand, whereas have a tendency to play with a lot more structure, playing for territory. It has the potential to be a game of contrasting styles.
All Eyes On:
Gethin Jenkins scrummaging was exposed at times on Monday and he will be under pressure to put that right in his first start against quality opposition in sometime. Wales will also be looking to their loosehead to produce a moment of magic, similar to the one witnessed against Namibia.
Seremaia Bai is the man who makes Fiji tick. A powerful defender and intelligent footballer, the Clermont centre will have to be on song if his side are to record another upset.
Head-to-Head: Toby Faletau v Sisa Koyamaibole
A mouth-watering clash between two very different number eights. The more experienced Koyamaibole is nearly two stones heavier than his opposing number for Wales. Faleatu’s dynamism versus Koyamaibole’s raw power is going to make for an intriguing and potentially brutal battle between the two.
Last fixture: Wales 16 Fiji 16, Millennium Stadium 19th November 2010
Weather Forecast: Light winds, with showers likely.
Wales showed against Samoa the mental toughness that they have lacked in previous World Cups. Although a confident Fiji team are a match for almost all test teams, it is hard to see how they can overcome their poor form of late, especially with the Welsh defence being so solid at the moment. Wales by 10 points.
by Paul French