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Saturday, 9 November, 2002, 18:19 GMT
Wales run Fiji ragged
Wales 58-14 Fiji
Wales silenced their critics with an impressive win over Fiji under the closed roof of the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Seven tries were a just reward for a devastating display of counter-attacking at pace, built on a fierce defensive display.
Llanelli wing Mark Jones claimed two tries, with Rhys Williams, Sonny Parker, Gareth Thomas and Colin Charvis also crossing, while Fiji also conceded a penalty try.
Wales had an early opportunity when Fiji illegally stole the ball in a ruck and skipper Colin Charvis had no hesitation in asking Stephen Jones to kick at goal.
Jones carried on where Neil Jenkins left off against Romania last week to give the home side a 3-0 lead.
Debutant Dafydd Jones settled any early nerves with some good line-out takes and a nice piece of linking play to put prop Ben Evans into a gap.
Wales suffered an early blow when Tom Shanklin had to limp off with a damaged ankle, with Cardiff's Jamie Robinson coming on to seize his opportunity with both hands.
As expected, Fiji started the match full of commitment but also conceding the almost inevitable rash penalties.
Referee Stuart Dickinson of Australia warned Fiji skipper Greg Smith that his side were risking an early sin-binning, as Stephen Jones fired two more penalties.
The Llanelli fly-half's third sucessful kick took him to 167 Test points, climbing above another Stradey Park great - Phil Bennett - and into fourth place among Wales' leading scorers.
Dickinson, who had also warned Wales for killing the ball, then made good his threat by showing the yellow card to Fiji's former Cross Keys centre Seremaia Bai.
Jones added two more successful kicks to make it 15-0 after 25 minutes, but Fiji rallied to put the Welsh line under huge pressure only for brave tackling to hold them out.
Wales now had a platform to express themselves and stunned Fiji with a devastating counter-attack just before the break.
Lock Gareth Llewellyn showed all his experience by stealing the ball, allowing Robinson to speed through a gap.
The recalled Martyn Williams showed how necessary a specialist openside flanker is, popping up in support to send full-back Rhys Williams over for a try converted by Jones.
A carbon copy followed as the forwards again won the ball, Robinson showed devastating pace, Thomas came off his right wing to feed Rhys Williams and Mark Jones went over for the try.
Steve Williams replaced Llewellyn - suffering the effects of a midweek illness - after the break, with Wales sitting pretty on a 27-0 half-time lead.
Fiji countered by bringing on Sevens legend Waisale Serevi at full-back for Joseph Narruhn, who had struggled with the tactical requirements of the No 15 shirt.
Fiji had an early chance as centre Seru Rabeni surged down the left touch line, only for lock Robert Sidoli to put in the sweetest of cover tackles to drag the Otago centre into touch.
Wales continued to impress and Charvis claimed a deserved captain's score by picking up a loose ball to charge under the posts for a converted try.
Fiji were becoming increasingly frustrated by the strength and discipline of the Welsh defence, with the visitors' mistakes being plundered for points.
Sonny Parker was the next beneficiary of a swift break, showing great strength to claim his first Wales try after an astute pass from Robinson.
The two players combined again after a loose kick, Robinson providing guile, Parker the power and then Mark Jones the pace to race in under the posts.
Fiji at last put some points on the board after Norman Ligairi skipped down the wing to score in the right-hand corner, Nicky Little striking a fine conversion.
Serevi picked up a loose ball to race up the touchline for another Fiji try, which he converted himself.
Thomas added another try for Wales, the Bridgend player's 28th in a red shirt, then came a penalty try for sculduggery that denied prop Iestyn Thomas a score.
Both sides ran out of steam in the last 10 minutes as the furious pace took its toll, but the 35,000 fans who had gathered in Cardiff went away happy and well entertained.
Wales: Rhys Williams (Cardiff); Mark Jones (Llanelli), Tom Shanklin (Saracens), Sonny Parker (Pontypridd), Gareth Thomas (Bridgend); Stephen Jones (Llanelli), Dwayne Peel (Llanelli); Iestyn Thomas (Llanelli), Mefin Davies (Pontypridd), Ben Evans (Swansea), Robert Sidoli (Pontypridd), Gareth Llewellyn (Neath), Dafydd Jones (Llanelli), Martyn Williams (Cardiff), Colin Charvis (Swansea, capt).
Fiji: Joseph Narruhn (Hino Motors, Jpn); Norman Ligairi (Southland, NZ), Seru Rabeni (Otago, NZ), Seremaia Bai (Southland, NZ), Fero Lasagavibau (Marist Northland, NZ); Nicky Little (Saracens, Eng), Jacob Rauluni (Rotherham, Eng); Richard Nyholt (Queensland Uni, Aus), Greg Smith (Fraser Tech, NZ, capt), Bill Cavubati (Masterton, NZ), Apisai Naevo (Kaneka, Jpn), Simon Raiwalui (Newport, Wal), Setareki Tawake (Brothers, Aus), Alifereti Doviverata (Yamaha, Jpn), Alivereti Mocelutu (Neath, Wal).
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