Reaction: Fiji edge out Wales in epic clash
September 29, 2007

Jenkins not ready to quit despite exit

Gareth Jenkins insists he will not resign as Wales head coach despite watching his side crash out of the World Cup with a 38-34 defeat to Fiji.

Wales will head home tomorrow having failed to reach the quarter-finals of a World Cup for the first time in the professional era.

Jenkins had asked to be judged on the World Cup but tonight urged against any "knee-jerk'' reactions and remains determined to fight on in the job.

"When you are in this position as national coach you have to accept you are accountable. We came here to get to the quarter-finals and we haven't done that - but what we mustn't do is panic,'' said Jenkins, who is under contract until the end of the 2008 Six Nations.

"There is no need for a huge knee-jerk reaction, that is my personal view. We need to understand the lessons. Our board will meet to understand the reasons behind why we haven't succeeded.

"Personally my ambition is to continue coaching Wales, it's as simple as that.

"I did say about being judged on the World Cup but there are, without a doubt, positives as well as negatives. "Going forward we will present our view and the people that make the decision will make their call.

"I have a lot of work to do in terms of analysing and reflecting and presenting a report. A decision will be made one way or another about the contract.''

His side will head now home tomorrow while Fiji go to Marseille to tackle South Africa in the last eight.

Fiji stormed into a 25-3 lead with three tries in the space of 12 first-half minutes from Gloucester's Akapusi Qera, winger Vilimoni Delasau and lock Kele Leawere.

After Alix Popham touched down for a pushover try shortly before the interval, Wales produced a spirited comeback to edge ahead with scores from Shane Williams, Gareth Thomas and Mark Jones.

Wales then appeared to have the match won when Martyn Williams picked off a pass from Nicky Little and raced clear to score.

But Fiji refused to be beaten and a try from prop Graham Dewes four minutes from time sealed a famous victory for the islanders.

"Not one of us is not hurting or bleeding emotionally,'' said Jenkins.

Wales captain Gareth Thomas won his 100th and possibly final Test cap today and at the end of the match he went down on one knee as if in prayer.

"I was devastated to be out of the World Cup. We have sweated and bled for each other and I was devastated that has suddenly come to an end,'' he said.

"When it comes to an end in a way you don't want it to, it hurts.

"It can be the most brilliant thing in the world and the most desperate thing in the world to be a Welsh rugby player.

"It is important the guys realise they can wake up in morning, go home to their loved ones and family and life starts again.

"We will get flak and we will take it together but the world keeps spinning and life goes on.

"It is a hard lesson to learn.

"I will never retire, though Welsh rugby has to move on and look towards the next World Cup.

"If I never play for Wales again I won't look back on today and it think it was all terrible. I will look back on my whole career and cherish the highs and lows.''

Fiji captain scrum-half Mosese Rauluni hailed his side's fighting spirit, which is by their own admission is not normally their best quality.

"Years ago Fiji would have lost that game. I'm so proud of the boys. They stuck to it, and it comes down to all the hard work and the training we did leading into this World Cup,'' said Rauluni.

"We made it to the quarter-finals, and it was our goal to do that.

"All our wins have been so close, Japan, Canada, those games have helped us to win this game today. The fight at the end there, those games helped us a lot and the boys, our defence really stood up to the task.''

It was the early hours back in Fiji when Dewes crossed for the winning try and Rauluni added: "I know they're going to start celebrating now with a lot of kava and maybe a lot of beer. Good on them, they deserve it.''

The only sour note for the Fijians was the late injury to Little, who was stretchered off with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.

A Fiji spokesman confirmed later Little had not broken anything but his participation in the quarter-final against South Africa is a major doubt.

Centre Seremaia Bai said: "We will use Nicky's injury as motivation. We are a family and we will play for him like a brother.

"He's one of the world-class kickers and his experience speaks for itself.''

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