Pool D preview: Wales v Fiji

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 00:00

It is the last match of Pool D - the Pool of Death. South Africa have survived it to go to the quarterfinals and Wales will survive it unless something like a tsunami happens.

If Fiji beat Wales with a bonus point and score at least 42 points more than Wales, Samoa, and not Wales, will go into the quarters.

You can safely take it that Wales will be in the quarterfinals but will still want to play this match properly, hence the strong side they have chosen.

At the very least this match will be match practice for their quarterfinal.

Fiji on the other hand have done the fun thing.

Their big match was against Island rivals Samoa and they have chosen only five of that side to start against Wales, giving their whole squad a chance to play, including Michael Tagicakibau who will be playing his first match.

Their bench looks good!

It's hard to see where on earth Fiji could win this match as Wales look too fast, too slick, too creative, too strong, too organised for Fiji.

Players to Watch:

For Wales: Take your pick of the Welsh side - from Lee Byrne to Gethin Jenkins and then on to Jonathan Davies. They are a really good side.

For Fiji: Of the Fijian side, France-based wing Albert Vulivuli (Racing-Metro) and flank Sakiusa Matadigo (Montpellier) may catch the eye. Otherwise wait for the bench and hope.

Head to Head: Having survived the muscular Samoans, Gaby Lovobalavu may well be able to cope with strong Jamie Roberts and Vulivuli could have an interesting little battle with Leigh Halfpenny who has done some wonderful things at the World Cup but it's hard to see rooky Michael Tagicakibau coping with big George North. Tall, loping Wame Lewaravu may be able to match Luke Charteris in all but height.

Previous Results:
2007: Fiji won 38-34, Nantes (World Cup pool match)
2005: Wales won 11-10, Cardiff
2002: Wales won 58-14, Cardiff
1995: Wales won 19-15, Cardiff
1994: Wales won 23-8, Suva
1986: Wales won 22-15, Suva
1985: Wales won 40-3, Cardiff

Prediction: Wales to win by more than 30.

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The teams:

Wales: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 George North, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Leigh Halfpenny, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Ryan Jones, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Paul James, 18 Alun Wyn Jones, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Lloyd Williams, 21 Stephen Jones, 22 Jonathan Davies.

Fiji: 15 Iliesa Keresoni, 14 Albert Vulivuli, 13 Ravai Fatiaki, 12 Gaby Lovobalavu, 11 Michael Tagicakibau, 10 Nicky Little, 9 Vitori Buatava, 8 Netani Talei (captain), 7 Sakiusa Matadigo, 6 Rupeni Nasiga, 5 Wame Lewaravu, 4 Leone Nakarawa, 3 Setefano Somoca, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Waisea Nailago.
Replacements: 16 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Campese Ma'afu, 18 Mala Ravulo, 19 Akapusi Qera, 20 Nemia Kenatale, 21 Seremaia Bai, 22 Vereniki Goneva.

Date: Sunday, October 2
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 18.00 (05.00 GMT)
Expected weather: There is a 50 percent chance of rain with a high of 18°C, dropping to 14°C and a wind of 15 km/h.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Stuart Terheege (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

By Paul Dobson