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Jenkins insists Wales will benefit in the long term from invaluable experience of Fijian challenge

International | 15th November 2021

Ellis Jenkins believes Wales will benefit from the ‘invaluable’ experience of their hard fought victory over Fiji on Sunday.

Gareth Baber’s side caused plenty of problems for the hosts at Principality Stadium with their trademark free flowing rugby and brutal physicality in the contact area.

However, a late charge from Wayne Pivac’s side secured their first win of the campaign, overcoming the stubborn Fijians, who were reduced to 13 men at times in the encounter.

Jenkins, who captained his country for the encounter, believes Eroni Sau’s first half red card motivated the visitors and praised their work on both sides of the ball.

The Cardiff star said: “What we’re trying to do is improve each week. This week was probably a bit of a mixed team with some boys being given opportunities.

“It’s valuable experience for lots of our players, particularly in high pressure situations. When things aren’t quite going your way, you learn more about people compared to when you have an easy ride.

“It’s invaluable experience for us going forward.

“I think you see it quite often where a team goes down to 14 and it almost galvanises them. Particularly when you’re playing against it, sometimes you get tugged into trying to find the space too early.

“You’re going around looking for it and maybe not quite sticking to process and exploit the space that’s presenting itself.

“We were a little bit guilty of that, particularly in the first half, but they defended really well. They were so good over the ball and were killing our attack at the breakdown area.

“That’s something we definitely need to look at and work on. Credit to Fiji, they made it really difficult for us.”

With attention now turning to Saturday’s autumn finale against Australia, back row Jenkins insists his side will now work hard on the training ground to improve certain aspects of their game, including the breakdown.

The Cardiff academy product added: “We played some good stuff in patches but just weren’t accurate enough, particularly in the first half from transition.

“We knew that Fiji would come to play a high-risk, high-reward game but it probably ended up less so than we expected.

“They played a bit more territory rugby than they usually do, and from speaking to Gareth Baber after the game, he echoed that.

“But they’re so dangerous when they do turn it on and there’s not many sides that can compete with them when they start doing that.

“It’s high-risk, high-reward so you have to be able to come alive from transition and we weren’t good enough at that in the first half.

“We were a little bit better in the second half but still not as good as we should be. We went in with a plan to keep it quite structured, having a set piece and taking the legs out of their front five.

“We planned on it opening up in the second half. It probably took a little bit longer than we expected or wanted, particularly with the red card. It might’ve been a bit of a stumble but we got there in the end.

“Credit to Fiji, they’re a quality team and I don’t think anyone is underestimating them anymore. They’re a team full of talent.

“They are big, strong boys and it’s obvious that the breakdown is an area they go hard at.

“We spoke about it before the game, and knew it was coming, but they still caused us more problem than we would’ve liked it to.

“The breakdown is often the byproduct of what’s come before it, whether that’s collision, being out of shape or just being down to good defence.

“It’s something we’ll look at and particularly next week against Australia, it will be important. 

“If we get over three or four changes, we look good and start to cause problems. But if we’re unable to hold onto the ball for that length of time then we’re unable to do that.

“It’s a big work-on for us and is probably down to a combination of different areas rather than just one.”

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