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Wales stumbled to victory over quality Fiji and must improve for Australia, admits captain Jenkins

Wales stumbled to victory over quality Fiji and must improve for Australia, admits captain Jenkins

Wales captain Ellis Jenkins admitted his team stumbled to victory over a quality Fiji side as things did not exactly go to plan in Cardiff.

Flanker Jenkins captained his country for the first time in three years in the absence of the injured Alun Wyn Jones on Saturday at the Principality Stadium.

And the 28-year-old steered his side to a 38-23 victory over the flying Fijians, but it was far from comfortable despite wing Eroni Sau being sent off after just 25 minutes for the visitors, who also spent a quarter of the match with 13 after receiving two yellow cards.

Wales were sweating on the result with Fiji only one point down with seven minutes to go before Louis Rees-Zammit showed all of his speed to score a sensational chip and chase try and Player of the Match Liam Williams dotted down with the clock in the red to add some late gloss to the scoreline.

“We went in with the plan to keep it quite structured, set-piece, take the legs out of their front five and we planned on it opening up in the second half,” revealed Jenkins.

“And it probably took a little bit longer than we were expecting or we would have wanted, particularly with the red card.

“But we got there in the end, maybe with a bit of a stumble but credit to Fiji they are a quality team and I don’t think anybody underestimates them anymore, they are a team full of talent.”

The home crowd were treated to plenty of Fijian flair as visiting captain Waisea Nayacalevu scored two terrific tries, the second of which was a scintillating team effort that started from inside their own 22.

However, Fiji were always up against it having picked up three cards but Jenkins thinks Wales were guilty of overplaying and forcing things while trying to make the most of their numerical advantage.

He added: “I think you can see it quite often when a team goes down to 14, it almost galvanises them.

“Particularly when you are playing against it, sometimes you get tugged into trying to find the space too early – going round looking for it and maybe not quite sticking to the process and exploiting the space that will present itself.

“We were probably a little bit guilty of that, particularly in the first half, but they defended really well, they were so good over the ball.”

Wales head into their final Autumn Nations Series clash against Australia, who along with Fiji are in Wayne Pivac’s side’s Rugby World Cup 2023 pool, knowing they must improve at the breakdown but Jenkins believes several of his side have gained valuable experience after being severely tested.

He explained: “They were just killing our attack at the breakdown area, it’s something we definitely need to have a look at and work on but credit to Fiji they made it really difficult for us.

“It’s valuable experience for lots of our players, particularly in high pressure situations.

“Probably when things aren’t quite going your way you learn more about people than when it’s an easy ride.”

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