Wales struggled to hold off fast-finishing Fiji to win 32-26 in the latest instalment of their entertaining Rugby World Cup rivalry on Monday.

The pre-tournament hype around Fiji looked to be justified when Waisea Nayacalevu and Lekima Tagitagivalu scored classic Fijian tries from deep in the space of four minutes to vault their team into a 14-8 lead by the 17th.

They didn’t score another point until the 73rd as the Welsh regrouped to deliver a mature and determined riposte, even claiming an attacking bonus point for going over for four tries. Josh Adams, the top try-scorer in the 2019 World Cup, got off the mark four years later with one of them.

This was the fifth straight World Cup where these two teams have met in the pool stage and Fiji’s only win remains that epic 38-34 in Nantes in 2007, the last time the tournament was staged in France.

This didn’t quite reach those levels, though it wasn’t far off, with Fiji producing some spellbinding rugby early on that had Welsh tacklers flapping at thin air and summoning up one last flourish that nearly brought about a thrilling victory.

Tries by Josua Tuisova and Mesake Doge, in the 73rd and 78th minutes respectively, left Fiji within a converted try to win and it could have materialised if center Semi Radradra hadn’t spilled a pass out wide when free on the left after the 80 minutes had passed at Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has a smile on his face but he knows his men have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat there in a thrilling finish against Fiji.

“I’m delighted with the win but we made it a hell of a lot harder than we needed to and made some dumb decisions in the last 15 minutes,” Gatland said. “I’m a little bit angry about a few things but the positive is we won. We just lost a bit of composure there.”

“It’s pretty tough to talk when you’re hot after the match,” said Simon Raiwalui, Fiji’s coach. “The referees have a tough job, but as a coach you’re just looking for that consistency.”

With 10 seconds remaining in regular time, Fiji win their lineout 40 metres from Wales’ line.

Now it’s a case of trucking the ball up. This is so intense as the crowd roars in Bordeaux.

Semi Radradra gets Fiji in Wales’ 22-metre area and they look a chance of pulling off one of the great Rugby World Cup wins.

But after more than 10 phases, the ball is flung to Radradra on the left wing. This is his moment.

It’s an average pass, on the bounce, that the former NRL star knocks on. He can’t believe it.

If Radradra catches that, he probably runs it over and Fiji have a chance to win the game with a conversion.

“It’s like watching disaster in slow motion,” says the lead commentator.

What a game. Wales get the job done. They are beyond relieved.

Just one game in and Wales — a semifinalist in 2011 and 2019 — already looks in good shape to reach the quarterfinals again under Warren Gatland, with Australia, Georgia and Portugal the other teams in Pool C.

Fiji might now need to beat Australia if it is to reach the quarterfinals.