Rugby World Cup 2023: Warren Gatland 'delighted' with Wales win against Fiji

Warren Gatland is in his second stint as Wales coach
Warren Gatland is in his second stint as Wales coach

Rugby World Cup 2023: Wales v Portugal

Venue: Stade de Nice, Nice Date: Saturday, 16 Sept Kick-off: 16:45 BST

Coverage: Live BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland says he was delighted with the 32-26 World Cup victory over Fiji, but admitted his team made some "dumb decisions" in a frantic final quarter.

Gatland's side had built up a 32-14 lead before conceding two late tries and almost losing the Pool C thriller in Bordeaux.

"I was delighted with the result, I thought there were lots of positives," said Gatland.

"We also made some dumb decisions."

Gatland said his heart was in his mouth in the last few moments as Fiji centre Semi Radradra dropped the ball with the Wales try line at his mercy in the final play of the game.

"With seven minutes to go I wondered about just going down to the changing rooms and waiting until the final whistle," said Gatland.

"There were some good learnings from today as well for us to take forward.

"I thought the way we prepared, the game plan took a little bit of time. At 65 minutes on the clock we were comfortable and we needed to control that.

"We gave away some unnecessary penalties, lost a little bit of composure, and allowed Fiji with the team and individuals they've got, they can hurt you.

"We showed some great courage in certain aspects and I'm delighted with this result."

Wales were facing a Fiji side who were three places higher than Wales in World Rugby's rankings.

"I think it's pretty significant for us," said Gatland.

"Fiji had probably gone into the game as favourites and with everyone expecting them to win.

"The hard work we put in I'm absolutely delighted with that. We've always been a team that builds on confidence and gets better in tournaments.

"So that's exciting. Fiji are a quality team, some of their athletes and individuals can really cause problems.

"We dominated territory and possession in the first half and had achieved what we wanted to achieve, and then we looked very comfortable and in control in that first 20 minutes in the second half [before] we put ourselves under pressure.

"I was frustrated and angry about the last period of the game, but it's about being honest and making sure we learn from it."

Biggar inspires Wales

Man-of-the-match Dan Biggar demonstrated his frustrations at the end of a first half where he launched two angry outbursts at team-mate George North.

"I didn't have a problem with it," said Gatland.

"It's about making people accountable. At times in that first half, there were opportunities for us to put the ball through the hands and shift with ball in hand or maybe a kick option as well.

"We used that little bit too much space, got some great turnovers and we probably weren't as clear on some of our communications or decision-making as we needed to be.

"There's nothing wrong with players in terms of challenging each other. We want that as part of the group so that everyone is accountable.

"That peer pressure is huge in terms of that and taking responsibility. Those sort of criticisms aren't personal. We talk about it being a point of care.

"It's about the team and individuals getting better because we need to be comfortable with being critical."

Biggar kicked 12 points and left the field carrying a small injury when Wales were leading by 18 points before Fiji launched their fightback.

Gatland noted that Biggar had starred for Wales on the birthday of his late mother Liz, who died in 2021.

"I think it was his mother's birthday today, so it was pretty emotional for him," said Gatland

"He'd say that he hoped she was looking down on him and maybe that's the case. For a little period of time he had back spasms which he's been having, so we made that change."

Victory gave Wales a boost in their bid for quarter-final qualification after Australia defeated Georgia in the Pool C opening match on Saturday.

Wales face Portugal in Nice next Saturday before further group games against Australia in Lyon on 24 September and Georgia in Nantes 13 days later.