Fiji secure World Cup showdown with Wales

First published in Sport

WALES will face Fiji at the Millennium Stadium in next year's World Cup after thrashing the Cook Islands 108-6, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Flying Fijians, who were without injured Newport Gwent Dragons back row forward Netani Talei, ran in 17 tries in Lautoka.

The Cook Islands led 6-5 after nearly half an hour before Fiji ran wild to secure a spot in Pool A.

They will open the tournament against England at Twickenham on Friday, September 18 before Cardiff encounters with Australia on Wednesday, September 23 and Wales on Thursday, October 1.

"It's a big game for us as a team and as a nation," said back row forward and captain Akapusi Qera.

"It's a big thing for a rugby player growing up to qualify for the Rugby World Cup and that's what motivated us in the second half."

Fiji will attempt to repeat their 2007 heroics when they stunned Wales 38-34 in Nantes, a defeat that ended Gareth Jenkins' reign.

A late try by prop Graham Dewes dumped the Welsh out of the competition and earned a quarter-final against South Africa.

"We called that guy (Dewes) the Dragon killer," said fly-half Nicky Little. "I was gutted because I was out in the open in the left corner and wanted the ball to be passed to me so I could show the pace I had.

"But everyone just looked at me and thought, oh, okay, we better maul it up then! In the end we got there, it was a bit of an ugly try."

The final place in Pool A is yet to be decided with Russia, Uruguay, Hong Kong and an African side battling it out in a playoff.

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