Wales bounced back from a 42-7 hammering at the hands of defending champions Fiji on day one to steal a 10-7 win over Kenya in the last play of the match with the hooter having already sounded despite a penalty to Kenya.
They followed that up with a comfortable 47-12 win over newcomers Sri Lanka as Jason Harries impressed with a hat-trick to set up a tense finish in Pool A as Wales waited on the result of the Fiji-Kenya match to see if they had reached the Cup quarters.
Nerves were quickly settled, however, as Fiji crushed Kenya 43-5 to ensure Wales finished the pool as runners-up to face New Zealand while Fiji’s reward for their efforts is a quarter-final against the USA who edged past Samoa and Scotland.
“Today was a good day’s work by the boys, they managed their group superbly,” said Wales head coach Gareth Williams.
“New Zealand is going to be a huge challenge but we’ve made steps along the way over the past two weeks so hopefully we can take another one tomorrow.
“The boys across the board have been excellent – it was good to see Ross Jones stepping up into the half-back position in only his second tournament, Will Thomas returning from injury was influential and we had a number of boys put their hands up throughout the day.
“We saw Jason Harries scoring a hat-trick against Sri Lanka, Iolo Evans coming off the bench made an impact while on the wing we’ve had Luke Morgan and
Alex Webber to add some punch which keeps those two fresh and hopefully we’ve got enough in the legs to step up against New Zealand in the quarter-final tomorrow.”
Dan Bibby scored 14 points as England defeated Portugal in Pool C before Dan Norton scored a brace in their 14-7 pool-deciding win over Canada to set up a Cup quarter-final against the Blitzbokke.
Australia joined Fiji as one of four sides to finish the pool stages unbeaten as tries from Ed Jenkins and Greg Jeloudev shocked the Blitzbokke 10-7 in the final match of Pool B.
New Zealand were also unbeaten after a 26-7 win over Samoa and 17-7 win over the USA.
In the Bowl matches on Sunday, Argentina will play Spain, France will face Portugal, Sri Lanka will look to get off to winning ways against Samoa with Scotland looking to overcome a tough ask against Kenya.
Australia v Canada
New Zealand v Wales
England v South Africa
Fiji v USA
France v Portugal
Samoa v Sri Lanka
Argentina v Spain
Kenya v Scotland
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BIOGRAPHY: Marcus Rashford