WALES Under-20s got their Junior World Championship campaign off to a flying start by overpowering their Fijian counterparts 48-19 in Pukekohe.
The Welsh youngsters, who finished third in 2012 and second last year, took the spoils in New Zealand thanks to tries by Ospreys wing Dafydd Howell, Newport Gwent Dragons number eight James Benjamin (2), Cardiff Blues flanker Ben Roach, two penalty tries and 18 points from the right boot of Dragons fly-half Angus O’Brien.
Wales made the perfect start when Ospreys wing Howells, capped by the seniors against Japan last summer, scored straight from the kick-off and his try was followed by a trio of penalties by Cross Keys' O’Brien.
Aseri Robarobalevu got Fiji on the scoreboard with a 14th-minute try but Bedwas back row forward Benjamin swiftly responded to make it 19-5 approaching the half hour.
Back came the Fijians, who beat Wales in the 2011 tournament, and a converted try by captain Akuila Tabualevu reduced the deficit.
But Wales eased their nerves thanks to another O’Brien three-pointer and a penalty try to head to the changing rooms 29-12 up.
Another penalty try 12 minutes after the restart put them well clear and Benjamin crossed the whitewash as the game entered the final quarter.
Replacement prop Peniona Toga went over for Fiji in the closing stages but Wales had the final say with a try by Cardiff Blues flanker Roach.
Ireland are next up on Friday followed by Grand Slam-winning France on Tuesday with the Group B table-toppers progressing to the semi-finals.
Wales scorers: tries – D Howells, J Benjamin (2), penalty (2), B Roach; conversions – A O’Brien (3); penalties – A O’Brien (4)
Fiji scorers: tries – A Robarobalevu, A Tabualevu, P Toga; conversions – E Mroisio, J Kurukava