Does Gatland trust Tipuric, and four other talking points from Wales 23-13 Fiji 6 years ago

Does Gatland trust Tipuric, and four other talking points from Wales 23-13 Fiji

Wales continued their unbeaten run in the 2015 World Cup with a 23-13 win over Fiji.

While they did not collect a bonus point, Warren Gatland's men will be happy to have avoided a potential banana skin after an emotional defeat of hosts England.

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Here are the five talking points we took from the match:

1. Welsh halfbacks are a surprising strength

Injuries to Rhys Webb and Leigh Halfpenny in the final warm-up game against Italy have surprisingly opened the door for the Welsh halfbacks to shine at this World Cup.

Dan Biggar has been nothing short of phenomenal and was influential again today. He has been quietly establishing himself as one of the best flyhalves in Europe. Halfpenny's absence has forced Biggar to take over the kicking duties - and he is defintely up to the task.

Meanwhile, Gareth Davies has arguably been the player of the tournament so far - scoring four tries in just three games including the opening try today and the winner against England. Wales have not yet missed Rhys Webb thanks to Davies's electric play.

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2. The Fijian scrum is for real

They have now dominated the scrums of three of the top five teams in the world at this World Cup. When they dominated the English scrum on the opening day of the tournament, we thought it was a sign of worry for the hosts.

While the English scrum still has issues, Fiji have shown the world that they can offer more than just the running rugby they are so famous for. Once again their scrum was powerful and controlled and could be a brilliant platform for them to build on in the future.

Perhaps if referee John Lacey was willing to actually penalise Wales at the scrum, Fiji could have come out of this one with a win.

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3. Does Gatland trust Tipuric?

After a bruising game against England less than a week ago, it is incredible that Warren Gatland preferred to leave Justin Tipuric sitting on the bench rather change up a clearly tired back-row. Even more amazingly, the Welsh coach waited until there were just 11 minutes left before bringing on the Ospreys openside. 

All of this begs the question - does Warren Gatland trust Justin Tipuric? It seems strange that he would leave such a talented player on the bench for so long in a game in which Wales conceded an usually high amount of penalties at the breakdown.

We know that Gatland is never going to drop Sam Warburton, but Tipuric can feel very hard done by here. With Australia up next, Gatland has to figure out a way to negate the influence of David Pocock and Michael Hooper. He could do a lot worse than moving Warburton to six and starting Tipuric at seven.

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4. Sub-par reffing still an issue

Overall, it feels like the quality of refereeing in world rugby has been on the rise over the last few years. Referees like Nigel Owens and Wayne Barnes have made noticeable improvements in since 2013, and this has allowed for some really exciting games.

The problem of the lack of world-class referees can be hidden in a tournament like the Rugby Championship or even the Six Nations because of a very limited number of games, but a World Cup really exposes the shortage.

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John Lacey had a very poor game today, missing calls on both sides of the ball. Both teams were lucky to have fifteen men on the pitch for the full 80 minutes and Wales were particularly fortunate that Lacey did not seem interested in calling penalties at the scrum.

The knock-out rounds will once again reduce the amount of referees needed and so refereeing will be less of an issue, but it is a long-term problem for World Rugby that must not be ignored.

5. Wales badly need some time off

There's no doubt about it, Wales will be delighted to have more than a week off before facing Australia on the final day of the pool stages. After building up a comfortable 17-3 lead at the half, they were clearly tired after the break.

Gatland's substitutions will not have helped, as he left them far later than he should have. Yes Wales were holding onto their lead by their fingertips, but this was largely down to tiredness.

The Welsh replacements really did not have enough time to impose themselves on the game but the fresh legs clearly lifted the team at the end. Biggar left the pitch with cramp late in the second half, a sign of how exhausted this Welsh team must be.

Wales v Fiji - Group A: Rugby World Cup 2015