Wales vs Fiji LIVE: Rugby result, final score and reaction from 2021 Autumn internationals

·23-min read

Wales have held off a brave effort from 14-man Fiji to bounce back from consecutive defeats and secure their first victory of the Autumn Nations Series.

After visitors Fiji made an impressive start at the Principality Stadium by taking the lead through captain Waisea Nayacalevu, the match was seemingly set to turn when winger Eroni Sau was sent off for a swinging elbow on Alex Cuthbert.

But despite two further yellow cards, either side of half time, Fiji were able to retake the lead when Nayacalevu added his second in a sensational team score, after Wales had briefly hit back through Keiran Hardy and Ryan Elias.

And it wasn’t until late in the match that Wales were able to breathe comfortably, with Louis Rees-Zammit producing an electric finish after chasing down his own kick and player-of-the-match Liam Williams adding a sixth try when the clock was in the red.

Follow below for all the reaction from the Autumn Nations Series match:

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Wales vs Fiji LIVE

  • 5’ - Nayacalevu crosses for opening score to give Fiji an early lead

  • 11’ - Elias goes over for Wales as they narrow gap to visitors

  • 25’ - Fiji reduced to 14 after Sau sees red for dangerous tackle

  • 39’ - Hardy scores on the stroke of HT with Fiji down to 13

  • 57’ - Nayacalevu scores spectacular second as Fiji fight back

  • 67’ - Elias and Cuthbert strike with Fiji again down to 13

  • 74’ - Stunning Rees-Zammit finish gives Wales breathing space

Wales stage late fightback to deny 14-man Fiji in thrilling Cardiff contest

17:51 , Jamie Braidwood

Wales survived a major fright against 14-man Fiji before claiming their first victory of the Autumn Nations Series campaign by winning 38-23 in Cardiff

Fiji had wing Eroni Sau sent off and two players sin-binned, but Wales found it tough going until wing Alex Cuthbert marked his first Test appearance for four years with a crucial try 13 minutes from time and Louis Rees-Zammit claimed a stunning solo touchdown.

Rees-Zammit’s 60-metre kick, chase and finish showcased his blistering pace, while hooker Ryan Elias touched down twice and there there were also tries for scrum-half Kieran Hardy and full-back Liam Williams, with Dan Biggar and Callum Sheedy each kicking two conversions.

Fiji, though, almost triumphed over adversity after Sau was red-carded for a dangerous tackle after 25 minutes. Captain Waisea Nayacalevu scored two tries – his second score being a spectacular team try – while fly-half Ben Volavola kicked 13 points.

Wales stage late fightback to deny 14-man Fiji in thrilling Cardiff contest

Full time: Wales 38-23 Fiji

17:32 , Jamie Braidwood

“We made it hard for ourselves,” says Wales head coach Wayne Pivac. “But this is what it’s all about. We had 17 or 18 players unavailable and it was a good experience for them to win a tight match.

“It’s something we’ve got to address [speaking about how his side played against 13 men]. It happened a couple of times in the Six Nations where we played against 14 men and we went off the boil. It’s a mental thing more than anything.”

Full time: Wales 38-23 Fiji

17:30 , Jamie Braidwood

Wales captain Ellis Jenkins:

“They’re a great team. They're full of exciting players and are really tough to stop. But credit to our boys, we stuck to our guns. It was a bit messy at times but credit it to them, it was tough from start to finish.

“They caused us a lot of problems at the breakdown. It’s a big win for us and there’s a lot to work on, but it’s a big result after the past couple of weeks.”

FULL TIME! Wales 38-23 Fiji

17:19 , Jamie Braidwood

Sheedy adds to two mores points to seal the win for Wales, but what an incredible display from the 14, and sometimes 13, men of Fiji. An incredible effort from them to be so competitive throughout the match, and in the end the 15-point margin flatters Wales following late scores from Rees-Zammit and Williams.

That was an incredible match, and Fiji emerge with a ton of credit.

TRY! Wales 36 -23 Fiji (WILLIAMS 82’)

17:16 , Jamie Braidwood

And that’s why! Tompkins makes the break through the middle of the Fiji defence before passing to Williams on his right, who dives for the line!

Wales 31 -23 Fiji

17:16 , Jamie Braidwood

80 mins: Fiji have the ball deep in their half as the clock ticks into the red. Matawalu makes a break to get to halfway, before Cuthbert takes down Tuimaba on the wing. Volavola goes for the crossfield kick, but Wales win it back.

They’re keeping it in play, though!

Wales 31 -23 Fiji

17:13 , Jamie Braidwood

79 mins: Wales take a sigh of relief as they win the penalty on halfway - and Sheedy clears the ball deep into the Fiji half.

Williams is awarded player of the match and Wales are almost there.

Wales 31 -23 Fiji

17:12 , Jamie Braidwood

77 mins: So close! Fiji attempt to roll the maul from five metres out, but they’re held up by the Wales defence and it leads to a clearance kick from Sheedy.

Wales 31 -23 Fiji

17:11 , Jamie Braidwood

76 mins: Fiji earn a quick penalty and keep possession following a lineout from 10 metres out. They’re ramping up the pressure with minutes to go!

Wales 31 -23 Fiji

17:07 , Jamie Braidwood

It stands! That turn of pace from Rees-Zammit was breathtaking.

Sheedy knocks the conversion through to extend Wales’ lead to eight points.

TRY! Wales 29 -23 Fiji (REES-ZAMMIT 74’)

17:05 , Jamie Braidwood

WOW - how about this from Louis Rees-Zammit?! If this stands it is an incredible try.

He chases his own kick from 40 metres and gained ground on Volavola following an insane turn of speed - before beating the Fiji man to the ball as it crossed the line.

The grounding is being looked at, however.

Wales 24-23 Fiji

17:03 , Jamie Braidwood

72 mins: This is remarkable stuff from the 13 men of Fiji - they keep the pressure on following the Wales lineout and keep possession on the halfway line. They then draw the penalty just inside their own half - and Volavola clears into the touch - outside of the Wales 22.

Fiji are back up to 14 as Eroni Mawi returns.

Wales 24-23 Fiji

17:00 , Jamie Braidwood

70 mins: Fiji aren’t done yet, though! After an initial break from Mata, Volavola goes for the crossfield kick looking for his winger, but it bounces out of play. A kinder bounce and Fiji could have been in.

Christ Tshiunza comes on for his Welsh debut.

TRY! Wales 24-23 Fiji (CUTHBERT 67’)

16:56 , Jamie Braidwood

Wales retake the lead as Cuthbert marks his return to the team with a try! Wales roll from left to right after Fiji lose possession in the lineout, as Rees-Zammit and Williams pass it on to the outside and Cuthbert touches down under pressure in the corner.

Wales 19-23 Fiji

16:56 , Jamie Braidwood

65 mins: Wales replacement centre Uilisi Halaholo makes a break up the middle of the pitch, but Wales’ attack breaks down as they attempt a kick over the line. Fiji clear after winning a penalty but Wales come straight back...

TRY! Wales 19-23 Fiji (ELIAS 63’)

16:52 , Jamie Braidwood

Elias adds his second, and it’s a copy of the first as Wales go back to the lineout and drive the maul over the line, with the hooker carrying it across from the back of the rolling pack.

Biggar’s conversion strikes the upright and stays out, which is his last action of the match as he is replaced by Callum Sheedy.

YELLOW CARD! Wales 14-23 Fiji

16:51 , Jamie Braidwood

Fiji go back down to 13! They were warned, but a third penalty in quick succession leads to a yellow card for substitute Eroni Mawi.

Wales 14-23 Fiji

16:50 , Jamie Braidwood

60 mins: Wales instantly march back to the corner - as Rees-Zammit is stopped on the line. Fiji concede a penalty five metres out, Wales take it quickly and keep it in play, before Fiji concede another penalty. They’re starting to add up for the visitors and the referee warns Fjii’s captain Nayacalevu that a yellow card is coming. Wales go back to the lineout, five metres out.

TRY! Wales 14-23 Fiji (Nayacalevu 57’)

16:45 , Jamie Braidwood

Stunning from Fiji! Wow, what a try! Biggar kicks for space in the corner and it’s comfortably collected by Tuicuvu. He initially calls for the mark, before realising that there was space in front of him to run into. He makes a clean break after beating two Wales defenders, before timing his pass to perfection. The ball is then passed on to the captain Nayacalevu, who bursts clear to cross in the corner. From one end to the other in a matter of moments!

Volavola adds the conversion.

Wales 14-16 Fiji

16:43 , Jamie Braidwood

54 mins: More frustration for Wales as they concede another penalty - but they get away with it as Volavola’s perfect record comes to an end with his first miss from five kicks.

Wales 14-16 Fiji

16:40 , Jamie Braidwood

50 mins: Wales’ play is getting very ragged. Fiji are forcing all sorts of penalties and turnovers and Wales are struggling to build any momentum in their attacks.

Wales 14-16 Fiji

16:37 , Jamie Braidwood

48 mins: It all gets a bit messy from Wales as they look to build the phases. Young spills the ball as Matavesi forces the turnover, before Volavola clears for touch downfield.

Wales 14-16 Fiji

16:34 , Jamie Braidwood

46 mins: Fiji win it back following the lineout and clear to halfway, before Biggar’s kick towards Cuthbert on the opposite flank dribbles out.

Wales think they’ve stolen it back from the lineout but the referee brings it back for a Fiji penalty at the lineout.

Tuisue is back on as Fiji return to 14.

Wales 14-16 Fiji

16:32 , Jamie Braidwood

45 mins: Biggar goes for the crossfield kick again, looking to exploit the gaps in the Fiji defence, but Rees-Zammit is denied by a crucial tackle from Volavola.

It comes back for an earlier offside, and Biggar goes back to the corner.

Wales 14-16 Fiji (Volavola pen 43’)

16:31 , Jamie Braidwood

Despite playing with 13 men, Fiji have retaken the lead! Ben Volavola hits a brilliant kick from 40 yards, to reward Fiji for their positive start to this half.

KICK-OFF! Wales 14-13 Fiji

16:29 , Jamie Braidwood

Fiji get us back underway at the Principality, and make an early turnover deep inside the Wales half.

Wales recover the ball before clearing, but Fiji are able to advance the ball back into the Wales half and Beard gives away a penalty.

Half time: Wales 14-13 Fiji

16:27 , Jamie Braidwood

Here come the teams ahead of the start of the second half.

The first seven minutes or so will be huge for Wales, given their two-man advantage.

Fiji can’t get Albert Tuisue back onto the field soon enough.

HALF TIME! Wales 14-13 Fiji

16:12 , Jamie Braidwood

An eventful 40 minutes at the Principality is brought to a close. The overall picture is looking much healthier for Wales following Eroni Sau’s red card, while Fiji will have another six minutes or so to play with 13 men following Albert Tuisue’s yellow.

Up until that point, it was looking like an uncomfortable afternoon for Wales, following Waisea Nayacalevu’s early try. Ryan Elias pulled one back for Wales but Fiji were the dominant side until going down to 14.

NO TRY! Wales 14-13 Fiji

16:12 , Jamie Braidwood

It was Rees-Zammit, much earlier in the move, who palmed the ball back into play. But the TMO shows that the ball had crossed the touchline and Rees-Zammit stepped out of play too as he tried to keep it alive.

It’s ruled out.

TRY! Wales 19-13 Fiji (REES-ZAMMIT 40’)

16:08 , Jamie Braidwood

Wales further exploit the gaping holes in the Fiji defence as Biggar pings a peach of a pass out wide to Rees-Zammit, who runs in to score.

The try is being checked, however, as it looks like the ball had gone out of play earlier in the move.

TRY! Wales 14-13 Fiji (HARDY 38’)

16:05 , Jamie Braidwood

Wales, inevitably, score the try from the scrum, as scrum-half Keiran Hardy wheels into the space and finds the gap in the Fiji defence to score outside of the posts.

Biggar adds the conversion to give Wales the lead for the first time, shortly before the break.

YELLOW CARD! Wales 7-13 Fiji

16:04 , Jamie Braidwood

37 mins: Fiji are down to 13 men after giving away persistent penalties when defending their try-line!

Wales worked the ball up to 12 phases following the lineout, first through the forwards and then out wide to Cuthbert, but they couldn’t get across.

Fiji stood strong but they pay the prince for committing several infringements, and it’s a tough ask to hold on now with 13.

Wales are going to scrum from five metres out.

Wales 7-13 Fiji

15:59 , Jamie Braidwood

34 mins: Wales win the ball back from the lineout as Beard makes the strip. Wales then look to play it out from the back, as Cuthbert makes a break around the outside. Thomas Youngs finds a gap to bring Wales to outside the Fiji 22, as the play comes back following a Fiji penalty.

Biggar goes back to touch.

Wales 7-13 Fiji

15:57 , Jamie Braidwood

32 mins: Oh no, Wales then turn the ball over needlessly as scrum-half Hardy throws the ball straight out of play as he looked to pass to Rees-Zammit on the wing.

Wales 7-13 Fiji

15:55 , Jamie Braidwood

31 mins: Fiji won another penalty from their lineout after Rowlands reached across as he tried to tip the ball.

Fiji kicked for the Wales 22 but they then lost the ball and it comes back for a Wales scrum following a knock-on.

Wales 7-13 Fiji

15:53 , Jamie Braidwood

29 mins: Fiji don’t contest the lineout, but it’s another big stand from them as they hold the Wales maul back.

Matavesi then wins the penalty at the breakdown, and Fiji are able to clear.

Wales 7-13 Fiji

15:52 , Jamie Braidwood

28 mins: Wales head to the corner following the penalty and looked to drive the maul towards the line, just as they did for the first try. Fiji stand strong this time, before Biggar takes a big hit as the ball comes back. Nothing comes from the penalty advantage and it comes back, as Biggar picks himself up to kick back to the corner.

RED CARD! Wales 7-13 Fiji

15:47 , Jamie Braidwood

It’s red. Eroni Sau has been sent off. The initial tackle was fine, but Sau caught Williams with his elbow, needlessly, as he went in for a second time. It’s not an unanimous decision from the officials, but one they eventually got right, in my view.

Wales 7-13 Fiji

15:45 , Jamie Braidwood

24 mins: Eroni Sau crunches into another big hit, this time on Johnny Williams, and it’s not until a few moments later that the officials pick up on the second contact from the Fiji winger, which is an elbow towards the head.

This could be a red.

Wales 7-13 Fiji (Volavola pen 23’)

15:42 , Jamie Braidwood

Ben Volavola stays perfect from the tee and he extends Fiji’s lead to six - this is turning out to be an uncomfortable afternoon for the hosts in Cardiff.

Wales 7-10 Fiji

15:41 , Jamie Braidwood

21 mins: Fiji gain some good momentum in a Wales scrum, before Biggar kicks a ball straight out of play to give Fiji a lineout just outside the Welsh 22.

Fiji keep the ball and Lomani is able to gain a couple of yards with a shimmy, before Fiji earn the penalty for a Wales infringement in the breakdown.

Wales 7-10 Fiji

15:37 , Jamie Braidwood

18 mins: Fiji keep the ball following a quick lineout and suddenly they have space down the right following a break. It ends in the hooker Matavesi attempting a chip and chase down the right touchline, but Williams gets across to call the mark and sweep up in the corner.

Wales 7-10 Fiji

15:36 , Jamie Braidwood

17 mins: Wales turn the ball over again inside the Fiji half and Rees-Zammit briefly had a chance for a chip and chase down the left touchline. His kick was blocked before Fiji recover possession in the corner. Liam Williams emerges from the pile of bodies clutching his shoulder, but he looks to be alright.

Wales 7-10 Fiji

15:34 , Jamie Braidwood

15 mins: Wales win the ball back from the lineout and quickly looked to work it from left to right. Tompkins tried to flip a pass wide to the winger Cuthbert, but it was too low and Fiji were able to recover.

Wales 7-10 Fiji

15:33 , Jamie Braidwood

13 mins: Fiji’s move grinds to a halt on the halfway line, before Lomani’s box kick fails to make any ground. Williams makes a positive carry before Biggar pings a kick into touch inside the Fiji 22.

TRY! Wales 7-10 Fiji (ELIAS 11’)

15:29 , Jamie Braidwood

And there it is! Wales dial up the same play, but this time it’s five metres closer to the line. Fiji don’t contest the lineout and are quickly overwhelmed by the maul, as Ryan Elias bides his time before crossing the line.

Biggar adds two more points with the conversion.

Wales 0-10 Fiji

15:29 , Jamie Braidwood

9 mins: Wales hit straight back and earn two quick penalties with ball in hand, as Biggar kicks for the corner.

Wales keep the ball from the lineout and that sparks the rolling maul. Fiji can’t withstand the pressure and it leads to another penalty, as Biggar again kicks for the corner.

Wales 0-10 Fiji (Volavola pen 8’)

15:27 , Jamie Braidwood

Ben Volavola adds his second successful kick as he sends the penalty through the posts from 40 yards.

It’s a dream start for Fiji!

Wales 0-7 Fiji

15:26 , Jamie Braidwood

The try is converted and things go from back to worse as Wales then concede a penalty at the halfway line, after good work from Fiji on the defensive side of the ball in the breakdown.

WillGriff John is down and is set to be replaced.

TRY! Wales 0-5 Fiji (Nayacalevu 5’)

15:22 , Jamie Braidwood

What a start from Fiji! The try comes from the penalty, which was kicked into the corner. From the lineout, Fiji worked it well and a sharp move down the left resulted in Vilimae Mata popping an offload to the captain, Waisea Nayacalevu, to cross.

Wales 0-0 Fiji

15:21 , Jamie Braidwood

3 mins: Eroni Sau pushes Nick Tompkins to the ground after the Wales centre attempted to tackle, before it comes back for an earlier Fiji penalty.

Wales 0-0 Fiji

15:19 , Jamie Braidwood

2 min: Fiji kick the ball straight back and the retuning Liam Williams collects, before Wales switch the ball out wide to Rees-Zammit. The winger has a couple of opportunities to skip past defenders on the touchline but can’t make any ground, and it’s eventually turned over by Thomas Young.

Fiji threatened to counter but it comes back for a scrum after a Welsh knock-on.

KICK OFF! Wales 0-0 Fiji

15:18 , Jamie Braidwood

Dan Biggar sends the ball into the Fiji half and we are underway!

Wales vs Fiji

15:15 , Jamie Braidwood

It’s Meda Dau Doka, or ‘God Bless Fiji’, for the visitors - and Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, or ‘Land of nmy Fathers’, for the hosts.

Two brilliant anthems - which will be followed by the Fiji ‘Cibi’.

Wales vs Fiji

15:08 , Jamie Braidwood

Wales have been forced into another late change!

Josh Adams, who was set to start in the centre, has picked up a problem during the warm-ups and is now OUT of the starting XV.

He has been replaced by Nick Tompkins.

Wales vs Fiji

15:07 , Jamie Braidwood

It’s a perfect afternoon in Cardiff for some autumn rugby, a stark contrast to the conditions in last weekend’s defeat to South Africa. There is some pressure on Wales this afternoon, however, who will want to get back to winning ways at home following consecutive defeats to the All Blacks and the Springboks.

The national anthems and kick-off is coming up shortly!

Wales vs Fiji

14:59 , Jamie Braidwood

There will be plenty of rugby fans who are excited to watch the ‘Flying Fijians’ this afternoon. hopeful for an entertaining display of attacking rugby. Frank Lomani, now a regular starter with Northampton Saints, and Ben Volavola are the key men in the half-back positions, while Vilimae Mata is an established force up in Edinburgh. On the bench, the sight of Nikola Matawalu will frighten Welsh minds if he comes onto the field late on, while Masivesi Dakuwaqa was part of Fiji’s rugby sevens team that defended their gold medal in Tokyo this summer.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Wales vs Fiji

14:49 , Jamie Braidwood

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac, talking to Amazon Prime ahead of the match:

[On his team selection] “We didn’t have a lot of options. We have a mounting unavailable list but some of the players pick themselves. We wanted to make some changes as we have the match against Australia in six days’ time, so it’s making sure we have a squad that can get across the two games.

[On Fiji] “Our opponent today I know very well. I loved my time in Fiji. They will give us a different challenge to last week. There will be a lot more off-loads in this game and our defence will have to be on the money. They’re a very good side and their set-pieces have improved and they will give us a good challenge.”

Wales vs Fiji

14:34 , Jamie Braidwood

Ellis Jenkins has been the story of Wales’ November, with the flanker making his first Test appearance in three years last weekend against the Springboks following his return from a serious knee injury.

This week, the Cardiff player has been awarded captaincy duties by head coach Wayne Pivac, following the absence of Alun Wyn Jones.

“Wayne said to me on Tuesday that there would be a couple of changes this week and that my name would be in the mix to be captain,” Jenkins said this week.

“It’s not something that massively fazes me, I tend to be quite vocal on the pitch in terms of organising and problem solving.

“So maybe it’s a little bit more responsibility but not something that changes my game, or the way I approach things.”

Ellis Jenkins will not be fazed by leading Wales

Wales vs Fiji

14:18 , Jamie Braidwood

It will be interesting to see how Josh Adams fares in midfield from the start today, after moving inside from the wing late in the second half of last weekend’s defeat to South Africa.

“It’s always been in the back of our minds,” Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said. “He has the ability and the skill set to play in more than one position.

“He obviously played well at full-back on the Lions tour and has played there at club level. We want to see if he can do it at this level.

“There’s a World Cup coming up and you want to build depth in all positions. When you can only take 33 to a World Cup, having guys who can play in multiple positions is important.”

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Wales vs Fiji

14:06 , Alex Pattle

Prop Tomas Francis has been ruled out of the Wales side to face Fiji today.

The Welsh Rugby Union said that the Ospreys forward suffered concussion during training on Friday.

He has been replaced in the starting line-up by Scarlets’ WillGriff John, who makes a first Test start after going on as a substitute against South Africa last weekend for his Wales debut.

Cardiff prop Dillon Lewis, meanwhile, joins the Wales replacements for Sunday’s clash in Cardiff.

Wales are seeking their first win of the autumn campaign following a 54-16 loss to New Zealand and 23-18 reversal against the Springboks.

Tomas Francis out of Wales side to face Fiji after training-ground concussion

Wales vs Fiji

13:57 , Alex Pattle

Wales battle Fiji in pursuit of some much-needed momentum and confidence in what is their third Autumn Nations Series match.

The Cardiff crowd will hope to roar on Wayne Pivac’s men after a heavy loss to New Zealand before suffering an agonising defeat late on to South Africa last week, with an opportunity against Australia to come next weekend.

There is a real buzz around the team with defence coach Gethin Jenkins keen to see what impact Christ Tshiunza makes, with the 19-year-old Exeter forward ready to demonstrate what he can bring. Fiji pushed Wales at the World Cup two years ago, only to succumb to a comeback after breaking out into a 10-0 lead. And it promises to be an entertaining contest, with Fiji’s DNA lending itself to an explosive brand of rugby from their dominance in the sevens format.

The contes also sees Ellis Jenkins taking the captaincy, three years removed from the Cardiff flanker’s first cap: “I’m obviously excited, but for me it’s just about trying to back up last week’s performance really. The captaincy doesn’t change too much for me. Obviously there’s a bit of decision-making and speaking to the ref, but other than that I’ll be trying to play my game in the same way as usual really.

“There’s been days where I feel really good and I think it’s going well and I’m confident. When my body’s feeling good and I’m able to train fully, then I’m confident I can play at this level and back it up. There’s obviously days when you don’t feel so good, when the doubts set in. But it’s just trying to remember where you’ve come from really, and not get too carried away with the highs or the lows.”

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