The South Sea Islanders produced a blistering opening period to lead 25-10 at the break and put themselves on course for the runners-up spot in Pool B. Two tries by flanker Akapusi Qera, and further tries by lock Kele Leaware and prop Graham Dewes, mean Fiji will travel to Marseilles to meet South Africa in the last eight next Sunday.
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Wales started well in this nine-try classic and took an early lead when Stephen Jones slotted over a penalty after three minutes, but Fiji hit back and their increasing pressure told on 14 minutes when Qera took Seru Rabeni's pass to finish under the posts. Nicky Little added the extras.
The seven's specialists opened up and extended their advantage four minutes later when the dazzling Rabeni broke out of his own half before offloading to wing Vilimoni Delasau who claimed his own chip to beat Mark Jones to score.
Fiji were in complete control when they scored their third try of the half after Qera's lung-bursting run. His pass found lock Leawere who powered over and Little's conversion gave the Fijians a 25-3 lead. Wales were desperate to get a foothold in the match and after a succession of scrums Alix Popham was able to claim a simple pushover try. James Hook took over the kicking duties from Stephen Jones and converted. The Osprey star missed a kick on the stroke of half time to trail by 15 points into the break.
Wales seemed to be energised for the second period and Shane Williams scored a fabulous solo try. The wing wizard took Tom Shanklin's pass to stretch his legs and beat Isoa Neivua's tackle.
Gareth Jenkins's men had the momentum and skipper Gareth Thomas celebrated his 100th cap in style by rounding off a fine move involving Hook and wing Mark Jones to score in the right corner. Jones got in on the act himself after 51 minutes to put Wales into the lead for the first time. But Little responded with two penalties to hand Fiji the lead again.
Fiji could have sewn up the match when Ifereimi Rawaqa was only halted by Gareth Thomas marvellous last ditch tackle. Wales reacted and Martyn Williams intercepted Little's pass before Dewes's match-winning try was awarded by the TMO. Little who kicked 18 points, was stretchered off with seconds left with a serious knee injury and is a doubt for the quarter-final at the weekend.
Wales 34 (10)
Tries: Popham, S Williams, G Thomas, M Jones, M Williams
Cons: Hook, S Jones (2)
Pens: S Jones
Fiji 38 (25)
Tries: Qera, Delasau, Leawere, Naevo
Cons: Little (3)
Pens: Little (4)
Wales: Gareth Thomas (capt); Mark Jones, Tom Shanklin, James Hook, Shane Williams; Stephen Jones, Dwayne Peel; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Chris Horsman, Alun Wyn Jones, Ian Evans, Colin Charvis, Martyn Williams, Alix Popham
Replacements: Thomas Rhys Thomas, Duncan Jones, Ian Gough, Michael Owen, Mike Phillips, Jamie Robinson, Dafydd James
Fiji: Kameli Ratuvou; Vilimoni Delasau, Seru Rabeni, Seremaia Bai, Isoa Neivua; Nicky Little, Mosese Rauluni (capt); Graham Dewes, Sunia Koto, Jone Railomo, Kele Leawere, Ifereimi Rawaqa, Semisi Naevo, Akapusi Qera, Sisa Koyamaibole
Replacements: Vereniki Sauturaga, Henry Qiodravu, Wame Lewaravu, Aca Ratuva, Jone Daunivucu, Norman Ligairi, Sireli Bobo
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)