RWC: Fiji make one change for Wales

9:52 pm on 7 October 2019

The Flying Fijians have made just one change to their starting fifteen to play Wales in their final Rugby World Cup pool match in Oita.

Viliame Mata replaces Peceli Yato at number eight. In the reserves, prop Eroni Mawi has been swapped with Lee-Roy Atalifo in the only other change to the 23 that comprehensively thrashed Georgia in Osaka, 45-10.

Edinburgh star Viliame Mata is back for the Flying Fijians.

Edinburgh star Viliame Mata is back for the Flying Fijians. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Fiji's quarter final hopes are effectively over after earlier defeats by Australia and Uruguay but head coach John McKee said his squad was determined to sign off from the tournament with a positive result.

"We see this final pool game as both a challenge and an opportunity. It is important to finish the pool stage on a high note," he said.

"We carry some confidence and momentum from the Georgia match and at the same time know we must step up in performance in this match as it will be of a higher intensity."

Semi Radradra scored two tries and set up three others for Fiji.

Semi Radradra starred on the wing against Georgia. Photo: AFP

Wales have also made changes in the back-row. James Davies and Ross Moriarty come in for Justin Tipuric and Aaron Wainwright with the the Six Nations champions conscious they still have to play Uruguay on Sunday before a probable quarter-final clash against England or France.

Wednesday night's clash at Oita Stadium will mark the fourth consecutive Rugby World Cup where Fiji and Wales have met in pool play.

Leone Nakarawa makes a run against Wales at RWC 2015.

Leone Nakarawa is one of seven players who also started against Wales four years ago, while three other current players were also in the matchday squad. Photo: Photosport

The Flying Fijians won the first encounter at the 2007 World Cup in France, which sealed their spot in the quarter finals, however, Wales romped to a 66-0 victory in New Zealand four years later and prevailed 23-13 on home soil in 2015.

"Wales present a big challenge to us as they are the current Six Nations champions and recently held the World Rugby number one ranking," McKee reflected.

"We can see the strengths across their squad: They have a very good defensive system and work rate so we know we will need to work hard to create scoring opportunities for ourselves."

Fiji captain Dominiko Waqaniburotua and coach John McKee.

Fiji captain Dominiko Waqaniburotua and coach John McKee. Photo: Supplied/Fiji Rugby

If Fiji can produce another upset they will, at least temporarily, keep their faint quarter final hopes alive, but they need Australia or Wales to stumble against Georgia or Uruguay.

Fiji squad:

1. Campese Ma'afu, 2. Sam Matavesi, 3. Manasa Saulo, 4. Tevita Cavubati, 5. Leone Nakarawa, 6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu (c), 7. Semi Kunatani, 8. Viliame Mata, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Ben Volavola, 11. Semi Radradra, 12. Levani Botia, 13. Waisea Nayacalevu, 14. Josua Tuisova, 15. Kini Murimurivalu.

Reserves: 16. Mesulame Dolokoto, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Peni Ravai, 19. Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 20. Peceli Yato, 21. Nikola Matawalu, 22. Jale Vatubua, 23. Josh Matavesi.

Wales squad:

1. Wyn Jones, 2. Ken Owens, 3. Tom Francis, 4. Jake Ball, 5. Alun Wyn Jones (c), 6. Josh Navidi, 7. James Davies, 8. Ross Moriarty, 9. Gareth Davies, 10. Dan Biggar, 11. Josh Adams, 12. Hadleigh Parkes, 13. Jonathan Davies, 14. George North, 15. Liam Williams.

Reserves: 16. Elliot Dee, 17. Rhys Carre, 18. Dillon Lewis, 19. Aaron Shingler, 20. Aaron Wainwright, 21. Tomos Williams, 22. Rhys Patchell, 23. Owen Watkin.