Dominant Wales booked a place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals after crushing Australia 40-6 and leaving Eddie Jones’ team close to pool-stage elimination.

A third successive Pool C victory sent Wales into the last-eight for a fourth successive World Cup under head coach Warren Gatland.

They are guaranteed to top the group if they defeat Georgia next month, setting up a likely quarter-final clash against Argentina in Marseille.

Wales overcame the early loss of injured fly-half Dan Biggar to boss Australia in every key department and coast home through tries from scrum-half Gareth Davies, centre Nick Tompkins and captain Jac Morgan, while Biggar, who kicked an early conversion, saw his replacement Gareth Anscombe boot 23 points.

It was Wales’ record win against Australia, overtaking a 25-point margin in 1975, and former England boss Jones will be left to face the music as the Wallabies lurch towards World Cup oblivion.

The Wallabies boss said on Friday he had no doubt Australia would win the game, yet Wales rammed those words down his throat, with two Ben Donaldson penalties Australia’s only scoring acts.

It was an outstanding display by Gatland’s team as they delivered the goods through a performance that bristled with confidence, power and accuracy.

Gatland named the team that accounted for Fiji in their World Cup opener, with lock Adam Beard winning his 50th cap in a line-up skippered by flanker Morgan.

Australia showed three changes from the side beaten by Fiji last weekend as full-back Andrew Kellaway, scrum-half Tate McDermott and flanker Robert Leota were all handed starts.

Wales blasted out of the blocks and were ahead after just three minutes when Morgan broke through in midfield and Davies ran a brilliant supporting line before gathering the pass and diving over.

Biggar converted, with Wales asking immediate questions of Australia’s confidence.

The Wallabies then responded through a concerted spell of pressure inside Wales’ 22, before Biggar took a blow and required treatment and Donaldson kicked a short-range penalty that made it 7-3.

Biggar could not shake off what appeared to be a shoulder problem, being forced to leave the pitch after just 12 minutes and replaced by Anscombe.

A second Donaldson penalty cut the gap to a point as the Wallabies fought for their World Cup lives.

Anscombe hit the post with a 19th-minute penalty, but he made no mistake off the tee just two minutes later as Wales moved 10-6 ahead.

It was a fast and furious contest, and Wales had to defend resiliently at times as Australia utilised powerful back-row runners Leota and Rob Valetini.

Anscombe’s second successful penalty 12 minutes before half-time opened up a seven-point gap, and then he completed a hat-trick before Wales attacked from halfway and almost breached Australia’s defence through wing Louis Rees-Zammit.

Wales took a 10-point lead into the interval, and they were good value as the prize of a quarter-final place drew closer.

Wales extended their advantage just two minutes into the second period when Australia conceded a scrum penalty and Anscombe duly obliged with three points.

The Wallabies’ lineout also started to go astray, and Wales were turning the screw through a dominant pack superbly marshalled by Morgan and lock Will Rowlands.

And they claimed a second try after 48 minutes when Anscombe’s pinpoint chip over the top of Australia’s defensive line led to Tompkins touching down, with Anscombe converting to leave the Wallabies 26-6 adrift.

Two more Anscombe penalties took Wales past 30 points, and they were now almost toying with their hapless opponents.

Australia had no answer in the set-piece area, with Jones being loudly booed each time he appeared on the stadium’s giant screens.

Gatland was able to ring the changes with his team in so much control, and Anscombe dropped a goal 10 minutes from time that rubbed salt into gaping Australian wounds.

Wales fans were jubilant, and Morgan scored try number three from a driven lineout as Gatland’s men cruised to a remarkable landslide triumph.

Warren Gatland believes there will be degrees of desperation on both sides when Wales tackle Rugby World Cup rivals Australia on Sunday.

Victory for Wales would send them into a fourth successive World Cup quarter-final with one group game to spare.

Australia, meanwhile, know that defeat realistically condemns them to a pool-stage exit for the first time in World Cup history.

“It will be one hell of a game, and that will be down to not just them being desperate, but us being desperate to progress through this pool,” Wales head coach Gatland said.

“There is definitely desperation for us because a loss or no points and the group could potentially come down to points difference.

“That is the last position we want to be in. I think that, when you’ve worked so hard and made as many sacrifices as the coaches and players have made in the past four months, that creates its own desperation.

“Why give yourself a get out of jail card when you don’t need to do that? We are desperate for the right reasons.”

Wales co-captain and hooker Dewi Lake has missed out on a place in Wales’ matchday 23 for the Lyon showdown.

Gatland has named the same team that defeated Fiji 12 days ago, with Ryan Elias starting at hooker in a side skippered by flanker Jac Morgan.

Elliot Dee provides cover for Elias on the bench, while lock Adam Beard will win his 50th cap. There is also a spot among the replacements for former England prop Henry Thomas, who is on course to make his Wales World Cup debut.

Flanker Tommy Reffell, a late withdrawal due to a tight calf muscle before Wales faced Portugal last weekend, also misses out, with Taine Basham providing back-row bench cover.

“He (Lake) was disappointed. He hasn’t had a lot of rugby, he has been carrying an injury and that was probably the decision we made for that one,” Gatland added.

“I have always been a fan of Elliot Dee in terms of his lineout throwing and how he brings energy off the bench. I know Dewi was disappointed, but it doesn’t mean that he is not going to feature in further games.”

Gatland is relishing another coaching encounter with Australia head coach and former England boss Eddie Jones, who has come in for considerable criticism following the Wallabies’ 22-15 defeat against Fiji last weekend.

That result has left Australia in the last-chance saloon as they look to navigate their way out of Pool C and onwards in the competition.

“You have come to realise what to expect from an Eddie team,” Gatland said.

“With regards to the way they are going to play on Sunday, we have prepared for a couple of scenarios.

“I was surprised at their tactics against Fiji. There were 11 less minutes ball-in-play time to us (Wales against Fiji), so I am not 100 per cent sure tactically how they will come at us.

“As coaches, we all come under pressure at times – it is part of the job.

“In fairness to Eddie, he is trying to take as much pressure off the players as he can, saying he is responsible for the results and that things aren’t good enough.

“Our relationship has always been good. We have been out on a number of occasions and had meals together. I find his company good – he is engaging.

“If you look at the recent record of games between Wales and Australia, there is never much in it. They won’t lie down and roll over for us.

“What I am happy about at the moment is putting some pride back in that Welsh jersey. It doesn’t take long to lose it.

“I don’t think we had the respect of the rugby world in terms of performance and results. That has been an objective of ours over the last few months, and players have made a lot of sacrifices.”

Gareth Thomas says it would be “an amazing feeling” if Wales beat Australia and book a Rugby World Cup quarter-final place one game inside the distance.

Wales tackle the Wallabies in Lyon on Sunday knowing that victory would confirm one of the two qualifying spots from Pool C.

England or Argentina are then likely last-eight opponents in Marseille next month, with Wales maintaining a 100 per cent record of reaching the knock-out phase under head coach Warren Gatland during four successive World Cup campaigns.

Wales then have a break next week before completing their group schedule against Georgia in Nantes.

“When we came here we always wanted to win all the games in the group and nothing has changed,” Wales prop Thomas said.

“We’ve got the same mindset. We want to go out there and perform and get the win.

“That would be an amazing feeling wouldn’t it, getting the third win? We don’t want anything but that. We are looking forward to this weekend and then we will have a couple of days to recover after that.”

While Wales occupy the box-seat, Australia must win to have any chance of progressing from a pool that also includes Fiji, Georgia and Portugal.

A 22-15 defeat to Fiji in Saint-Etienne last weekend has elevated the prospect of Australia not progressing to the quarter-finals, which has been their minimum achievement in all nine previous World Cup campaigns.

Australia’s record in the tournament against Wales is a good one, though, having toppled them five times from seven attempts, but the latest meeting will undoubtedly see them weakened by injured forwards Taniela Tupou and Will Skelton missing out.

Thomas added: “They are always going to be dangerous when you play against them.

“We wanted to come here with the mindset of winning all the pool games, and nothing has changed for us. So whether they have won or lost, it doesn’t change anything for us.

“We take a lot of confidence from the Fiji game and Portugal game and what we’ve done all summer, really, and feel like we can only get better as well.

“We know it is going to be a big, physical contest and we are looking forward to getting out there.

“It doesn’t really make any difference to me whether they (Tupou and Skelton) are in or not.

“We’ve got our heavies behind us – Will (Rowlands) and Beardy (Adam Beard) and Daf (Dafydd Jenkins). They are all heavy boys and Christ (Tshiunza) as well. We’ve got plenty of power ourselves.”

Thomas is among 16 Wales players involved in a first World Cup campaign and he is relishing the experience on and off the pitch.

Wales assistant coach Alex King has compared the squad to a “band of brothers”, and Thomas said: “There is just something special about every game in the World Cup, so we are watching them and just enjoying them because there is a big buzz about everything.

“We have fines committees. The (latest) sheet came out with all the fines on it and Nick Tompkins racked up a decent bill.

“He wore the wrong T-shirt and he was a little bit late for monitoring after the Fiji game because his alarm didn’t go off. It’s all good fun.

“I am on environment, so making sure everything is clean and taking the empty bottles, putting them in the bin. That’s my job, the guy who tells everyone to clean up their own stuff.”

Wales assistant coach Jonathan Thomas has described Australia as “a wounded animal” ahead of Sunday’s Rugby World Cup clash that could see the Wallabies make unwanted history.

Eddie Jones’ team are teetering on the edge of a World Cup pool stage exit for the first time.

If Wales beat them in Lyon, then their quarter-final hopes will be over and head coach Eddie Jones left to face the music.

“It is a cliche, and I apologise, but you just have to focus on yourselves,” Thomas said.

“When you start thinking about permutations or selection of the opposition, you go down a rabbit hole, in my opinion.

“Confidence, for me, comes from the work you do during the week. That is where we get our focus from.

“We respect Australia as a rugby nation. They are a wounded animal, they can be dangerous.”

Australia hold a 5-2 lead across the countries’ seven previous World Cup meetings, but Wales will start as favourites this time around.

They have collected a maximum 10 points from their first two Pool C games – a record that only Ireland of any other team in the competition can match.

Wales’ pool stage win against Australia in Japan four years ago set them on a course to the semi-finals, where they were knocked out by South Africa in Yokohama.

Wales centre George North added: “I’ve been to quite a few World Cups now, and to get early results is good.

“I think if you had said to us we would have 10 points after the first two games, I think everyone would have bitten your hand off. It is a massive game that we have to go and win on Sunday.

“The quality we have got now is really showing. Each day everyone is trying to get better to fight for that jersey and that’s what drives you on.

“It (qualifying on Sunday) would certainly be a little weight off the shoulders, wouldn’t it? What has stood us in good stead is just focusing on every game as it comes.

“We will have had an eight-day turnaround, which helps, from the Portugal game. We’ve had that rotation and allowed everyone to have a game.

“The families have been out and we’ve seen them. Every week, we have a day off, and that ability to switch off is key. I think it has really showed.

“This week, boys are really chomping at the bit. Yesterday was what we would call a recovery day, but it was far from recovery. It was very much on full gas.

“I think if we can keep pushing that today and the rest of the week, it will put us in a great position come Sunday.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland’s team selection looks unlikely to deviate far, if it all, from the one that defeated Fiji in Bordeaux 10 days ago.

He could, though, decide on naming two specialist openside flankers in the back row, with Jac Morgan and Tommy Reffell starting alongside number eight Taulupe Faletau.

Reffell was due to feature against Portugal, but a tight calf muscle saw him withdrawn from the starting line-up just before kick-off.

Thomas said: “It was a prudent move not to play him. He is being assessed every day. He is the only one we will weigh up – everyone else is fit.

“The good thing we’ve got with our back-rowers is that they are versatile. All of them can play in different positions, pretty much, so those options are always there. We will see.”

Jonathan Humphreys has predicted “a hell of a game” when Rugby World Cup rivals Wales and Australia go head-to-head in Lyon.

Top spot in Pool C could be on the line next Sunday and Wales know that objective will move closer into view if they topple the Wallabies.

Australia have beaten them in five of their seven previous World Cup meetings, but bonus-point victories over Fiji and Portugal mean that Wales are in decent shape.

“It is going to be a hell of a game – there is going to be a lot riding on that,” Wales assistant coach and forwards specialist Humphreys said.

“We have got an eight-day turnaround, so hopefully we will have a full squad to choose from. A few boys have rested up after a tough Fiji game.

“It will be interesting to see how they come out. He (Australia head coach Eddie Jones) has always got something different in his game.

“The players he has available to him right now are a hell of a squad, and we are looking forward to what will be an incredibly tough match.”

Wales, showing 12 changes from the side that defeated Fiji, struggled to impose themselves at times against a Portugal team relishing their first World Cup appearance since 2007.

But ultimately, a 28-8 success – and a bonus point collected in the dying seconds when Taulupe Faletau scored Wales’ fourth try – meant it was a case of job done.

Humphreys added: “We are delighted to get 10 points from the first two games. If you had offered that to us before we came out here we would have taken your hand off.

“There were a lot of boys who hadn’t played for a while – we made a lot of changes. It was great that we got a bonus point, and they’ve also got a fair bit of game-time.

“The first game (against Fiji) was obviously massive for us. As a squad we really came together after that game, saying ‘it’s a good start’.

“The support the team that played against Portugal had from the rest (of the squad) tells us the spirit is there.

“We are in a pretty good place, but we know we need to improve and get better if we are to do the job against Australia.”

Fitness-wise, Wales will need to run the rule over flanker Tommy Reffell and prop Henry Thomas when they arrive back at their training base in Versailles.

Thomas, who has a hamstring issue, is the only player in Wales’ 33-strong World Cup squad not to have been involved against Fiji or Portugal.

Reffell, meanwhile, was due to face Portugal but a tight calf muscle meant he withdrew during final pre-match preparations and Jac Morgan replaced him.

“Tommy is an incredibly tough bloke, but it was the right decision,” Humphreys said.

“He was in agreement with that. If he pulled his calf, he is probably gone for the tournament. It was done as a precaution to make sure that he is not too long out.

“Jac is incredible. He wasn’t due to be involved, and the non-(matchday) 23 (including Morgan) did weights and extra-conditioning in the morning. He is an incredible player.”

Humphreys also highlighted Faletau’s major contribution in only his second start since a calf injury meant he took no part during Wales’ three World Cup warm-up Tests.

“He is a massive player for us,” Humphreys added. “To see him chasing back, make that (try-saving) tackle and get to his feet to go for the ball, he is a huge player and he will get better and better.

“That’s the thing about world-class players, on big moments like that they step up and do something. We are looking forward to seeing what more he can do.”

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley was sent home from the World Cup in Japan on this day in 2019 after a breach of betting rules.

The then 48-year-old former Wales captain had been a part of Warren Gatland’s coaching team since 2008 and left Wales’ World Cup squad base in the southern Japanese city of Kitakyushu while an investigation into his betting activities took place.

The Welsh Rugby Union said at the time that Howley had “returned to Wales to assist with an investigation in relation to a potential breach of World Rugby regulation 6, specifically betting on rugby union”.

Howley was sent home six days before Wales’ opening World Cup game against Georgia, a fixture they went on to win 43-14.

In a statement, the WRU said: “The WRU can confirm that Rob Howley has returned to Wales to assist with an investigation in relation to a potential breach of World Rugby regulation 6, specifically betting on rugby union.

“The decision was taken to act immediately in light of recent information passed to the WRU.

“No further details can be provided at this stage as this would prejudice the investigation. If required, an independent panel will be appointed to hear the case.

“Rob has co-operated fully with our initial discussions, and we would ask that the media appreciate this is a difficult and personal matter for Rob and that his privacy is respected before an outcome is reached.

“Warren Gatland has consulted with senior players, and Stephen Jones will be arriving in Japan imminently to link up with the squad as attack coach.”

Following the investigation, Howley was banned from all involvement in rugby for 18 months, nine of which were suspended, with the ban being backdated from the date he returned home from the tournament.

It emerged that Howley was charged with making 364 bets on rugby union over a four-year period, with 24 on games connected to Wales including two upon Wales players scoring tries.

Howley placed a bet on a Wales player to be the first try-scorer in the 25-7 Six Nations victory over Ireland in March 2019, but Howley stated that it was part of a treble bet, adding that it was a part of his normal recreational betting activity.

However, he later admitted that he knew he could not bet on matches involving Wales and that it was a breach of World Rugby anti-corruption and betting regulations.

Following examination of Howley’s electronic devices, including his laptop and phone, “no material was discovered which incriminated Mr Howley to an extent greater than that which he had already admitted”.

Wales reached the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup before losing 19-16 to eventual champions South Africa.

Wales boss Warren Gatland declared it a case of “job done” by beating Portugal 28-8 at Stade de Nice and taking another step toward the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

It was not pretty at times, and Wales only claimed the bonus-point try they coveted when number eight Taulupe Faletau scored in the dying seconds, but Gatland’s team now have 10 points from 10 in Pool C.

“If someone said you would have 10 points from the first two games, we would have been pretty happy with that,” Wales head coach Gatland said.

“Look, there were aspects of today where we probably tried to play a little too much rugby early on and didn’t play a bit more territory and be a bit more direct.

“But some of those players haven’t had a lot of rugby. I just said to them in the changing room, ‘job done’. We’ve got the five points.

“They had thrown everything at us in those first 20 minutes. They probably didn’t have the same opportunities in the second half in terms of putting us under that sort of pressure.

“When we ran hard and won those collision, that is when we looked dangerous. Probably at times we were a little bit lateral.

“It’s good we have given everyone in the squad an opportunity and some rugby. We have a little bit more time in terms of preparation before Australia and we can start looking forward to that game.”

Gatland confirmed flanker Tommy Reffell was suffering from a tight calf muscle that saw him pulled out of the starting line-up just minutes before kick-off, with Jac Morgan called up.

“Tommy said his calf was a bit tight,” Gatland added.

“I think he was still quite keen to take the field, but if he pulled that calf, that would have been his World Cup over.

“To put Jac in as a straight replacement with very limited preparation, I thought he was good.”

Gatland’s much-changed side struggled throughout for control and fluency in the contest, the highlight of which was Portugal’s attacking flair.

Wing Louis Rees-Zammit, captain Dewi Lake, Morgan and Faletau scored tries, while Leigh Halfpenny kicked three conversions and Sam Costelow landed one, yet a vast improvement will be required against Australia in Lyon next weekend.

Portugal gave as good as they got for large parts of the game and they undoubtedly deserved more than flanker Nicolas Martins’ try and a Samuel Marques penalty.

Their exciting back division stretched Wales’ defence in all directions, although wing Vincent Pinto blotted the copybook when he was red-carded late in the game following a bunker review after his boot caught Josh Adams in the face.

Asked if he was surprised by Portugal’s physicality, Lake said: “No, I don’t think we were surprised as we had done our homework on the team that we were facing.

“We understood what they were going to bring to the table from a physicality standpoint. Gats spoke in the week about them being a mini-Fiji in terms of an off-load game.

“They’ve got players who want to snipe and want to run. In terms of physicality, we won that battle over 80 minutes.”

Portugal lost 102-11 when they last played Wales in 1994, although captain Tomas Appleton struggled to mask his disappointment at the latest outcome.

“We really wanted to win this game. We really worked hard for that,” Appleton said.

“We lost many areas of the game, we didn’t have a solid scrum, we made mistakes in the backs and when we are playing at this level we get penalised and we suffer with those mistakes.

“We couldn’t quite show the rugby that we have, the good level of fast rugby we can play, and at the end of the day we are frustrated.

“We are not here to just be a presence, we are here to compete and win. When you are playing at this level you have to be cool-headed, and I think a lot of times we made bad decisions.”

Wales took another step towards the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, but they were given a fierce examination by minnows Portugal before winning 28-8 at Stade de Nice.

Warren Gatland’s much-changed team struggled throughout for control and fluency in the Pool C contest, the highlight of which was Portugal’s attacking flair.

Wales started with only three survivors from the side that defeated Fiji last weekend, and their latest performance was a world away from what they delivered in Bordeaux six days ago.

Wing Louis Rees-Zammit, captain Dewi Lake, flanker Jac Morgan and number eight Taulupe Faletau scored tries, while Leigh Halfpenny kicked three conversions and Sam Costelow landed one, yet a vast improvement will be required against Australia in Lyon next weekend.

Portugal gave as good as they got for large parts of the game, and they undoubtedly deserved more than flanker Nicolas Martin’s try and a Samuel Marques penalty, with Wales not collecting a bonus point until the dying seconds.

Their exciting back division stretched Wales’ defence in all directions, although wing Vincent Pinto blotted the copybook when he was red-carded late in the game following a bunker review after his boot caught Josh Adams in the face.

Wales suffered an injury blow shortly before kick-off when flanker Tommy Reffell withdrew from the starting line-up and was replaced by Morgan.

Portugal, playing their first World Cup game for 16 years, were captained by centre Tomas Appleton and under the coaching direction of former France international wing Patrice Lagisquet.

Marques missed a golden chance to put his team in front when he sent a short-range penalty wide, and Wales went ahead through a ninth-minute try that saw an impressive finish from Rees-Zammit, who then performed a Cristiano Ronaldo-style celebration.

Halfpenny converted, but Portugal showed plenty of adventure in attack and Faletau pulled off a try-saving tackle that preserved Wales’ 7-0 lead after 17 minutes.

It was an impressive effort by the underdogs as their eagerness to move possession wide and at pace tested Wales’ defence.

Wales made errors when they got within sight of Portugal’s line, and an element of frustration was underlined when Johnny Williams received a yellow card following a technical infringement.

It was an outstanding first-half display by Portugal, who were beaten 102-11 on their only previous meeting with Wales in a World Cup qualifier 29 years ago.

Wales just could not get going, compounding their situation through poor work in the contact area, and Marques kicked a penalty three minutes before the break.

Williams then had a try disallowed after he failed to ground the ball, only for Lake to power over from close range, with Halfpenny’s conversion making it 14-3 at the interval.

Wales began the second period by losing two attacking lineouts in quick succession inside Portugal’s 22 and Gatland soon turned to his replacements’ bench, sending on Ryan Elias, Corey Domachowski, Tomas Francis and Adam Beard.

Back-row forward Taine Basham soon followed them into the action and Wales claimed a third try after 56 minutes when Morgan crossed from close range and Halfpenny added the extras.

Portugal deservedly claimed a try midway through the second half when clever lineout work produced a try for Martins. Marques’ touchline conversion attempt hit a post and it was a warning sign to Wales that their opponents had no intention of going quietly.

The closing stages were all about whether or not Wales could secure a bonus point, and they thought they had it when scrum-half Gareth Davies crossed, only to see it disallowed for midfield obstruction.

That summed up Wales’ day, but, after Pinto was dismissed, Faletau scored in the game’s final play and Costelow converted.

Gareth Anscombe has revealed how he feared his Rugby World Cup hopes might have been destroyed by injury for a second successive tournament.

The Wales fly-half missed Japan 2019 after suffering an horrific knee injury during a World Cup warm-up game against England that sidelined him for two years.

Anscombe fought back to put himself on the international stage once more – then injury struck again during Wales’ World Cup training camp in Turkey earlier this summer.

An attempted tackle on George North left Anscombe with a thumb problem that resulted in scans and him having to wear a plaster cast for a month, ruling him out of Wales’ three pre-World Cup Tests.

“I suppose I had a night there in Turkey where I thought I was done again, and that was devastating,” said Anscombe, who starts Saturday’s Pool C clash against Portugal at Stade de Nice.

“You have some dark thoughts then, but thankfully I had some luck on my side for once.

“It didn’t look great at the start, and the initial prognosis was it was probably going to need surgery, but thankfully the scans came back better than first thought.

“I had to be in a cast for a month, which was difficult, but at least I could still run.

“I missed the warm-up games, but to have the backing of the coaching staff was great. They spoke to me and said I was still in their plans, which was nice to hear.

“It has been about getting myself right and ready for when an opportunity presented itself, and here we are this weekend.”

Anscombe is one of eight survivors from Wales’ 2015 World Cup squad to be involved eight years later, and he offers considerable experience through 35 caps.

And the New Zealand-born number 10 is relishing a chance to play his part as Wales aim to reach the World Cup knockout phase for a fourth successive tournament.

He features in a team showing 13 changes from the side that toppled Fiji, and it is Anscombe’s first World Cup appearance since he started at full-back against quarter-final conquerors South Africa eight years ago.

“We know there are parts of our performance that we need to improve if we want to progress deep into this tournament,” he added. “But it was a great start (against Fiji).

“There has been an element of confidence brewing. The more time we spend together, we always improve.

“You look back to the Six Nations, a new coaching group and a fairly volatile situation in Welsh rugby.

“We’ve just been able to get away from a bit of the noise, which I think has been important for us as a group. Getting away in Switzerland and Turkey, focusing on ourselves.

“You always need an element of luck in World Cups, with injuries and decisions. We just hope to slowly go about our work and ride the wave.

“We had fantastic support on the weekend. I think more people will jump on the plane over and get behind us. I think you see when Welsh fans get behind us, who knows what can happen.”

Wales play their second game of the Rugby World Cup when they tackle Portugal in Nice on Saturday.

After a nerve-shredding victory over Fiji, another bonus-point win would strengthen Wales’ position in Pool C.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the main talking points heading into the game.

Wales have immediate momentum

The Fiji fixture in Bordeaux had been on Wales’ World Cup radar ever since the draw was made, with Warren Gatland’s squad knowing that victory over dangerous opposition would put them on a quarter-final course. While they were hanging on at times during the closing stages, Wales got the job done and did it in bonus-point fashion. Another five-pointer should follow against Portugal, setting them up to face Australia eight days later. If Fiji defeat the Wallabies on Sunday in Saint-Etienne, then Wales would be in control of the group.

A glimpse of the future

Wales’ starting line-up on Saturday is littered with players who could provide foundation stones for teams way beyond the current World Cup. Exeter locks Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza are just 20 and 21, centre Mason Grady is 21, wing Louis Rees-Zammit 22 and captain Dewi Lake only 24, highlighting a rich seam of young talent available to head coach Gatland. There are also those that missed the World Cup cut this time around – Max Llewellyn, Tom Rogers and Joe Roberts, among others – who could easily feature in the Six Nations squad later this season, suggesting that promising times lie ahead.

Warren Gatland in his element

The Wales head coach’s body language currently exudes belief and confidence. While he readily acknowledged a fraught final 10 minutes of last weekend’s victory over Fiji, ultimately Wales’ 32-26 success made an immediate statement in the quest to top Pool C. Gatland’s World Cup record shows semi-final appearances either side of reaching the 2015 quarter-finals, providing sustained excellence. And he has the air of someone eyeing not only a repeat performance of four years ago in Japan, but to go even better. It is early days, yet the initial signs could hardly be more encouraging.

Wales cut loose in Lisbon

It is 29 years since Wales and Portugal faced each other, and a one-sided affair played out in the Portuguese capital. After making a World Cup pool exit in 1991, it meant Wales having to qualify for the next tournament. Portugal were despatched 102-11, with Wales running in 16 tries. Wing Nigel Walker scored four of them, while there were hat-tricks for Ieuan Evans and Mike Hall as a Wales team that also included the likes of Neil Jenkins, Robert Jones, Gareth Llewellyn and Scott Quinnell ran riot. Wales successfully finished the qualifying job in Madrid seven days later, seeing off Spain 54-0.

What is Portugal’s World Cup record?

They qualified for the 2007 tournament, which was also held in France, being drawn in a tough group alongside Scotland and New Zealand. The Scots defeated them 56-10, before the All Blacks posted a points century. A 31-5 reversal followed against Italy, before Portugal regrouped impressively and went close to upsetting Romania before they were edged out 14-10. Former France wing Patrice Lagisquet is now their head coach, and recent form has been strong, notably a 46-20 World Cup warm-up win against the United States and a battling loss to Australia A. They qualified for the 2023 World Cup by winning a repechage competition in Dubai.

Christ Tshiunza admits he is “living a dream” as he prepares to make his Rugby World Cup debut for Wales.

Tshiunza’s journey has taken him from his birthplace – Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – to Exeter Chiefs, via Whitchurch High School in Cardiff after he and his family left a country rife with civil war 13 years ago.

To have now arrived at a World Cup just eight months after his 21st birthday underlines a searing rate of progress on the rugby pitch.

Tshiunza will make his first appearance in the tournament against Portugal on Saturday, when he will be partnered in the second-row by his Exeter colleague Dafydd Jenkins.

“It is very surreal, considering in 2010 I didn’t even know what rugby was,” Tshiunza said.

“I was with Mason (Wales centre Mason Grady) four years ago, we were going to a Wales Under-18s tournament in South Africa and we were just saying it would be class to be at the next World Cup, and now we are here.

“I feel like I am living a dream at the moment, so after all of this we will look back and think ‘wow, that was really good’. I am just happy to be here and I am trying to enjoy every moment so far.

“We (Jenkins and Tshiunza) are room-mates as well, and sometimes we just like lay in bed and look over at each other and say ‘what are we doing here, to be 20 years old, what have we done to deserve this?’

“It is still very surreal at the moment, but after this tournament we will look back and be glad we did it together.

“A year ago if we said we are definitely going to come to the World Cup, no-one would have believed us.

“We are all really grateful for the opportunity we have been given. It is an opportunity to play on the biggest rugby stage, we have all got to take this opportunity with both hands.”

While at school in Cardiff – fellow Whitchurch past pupils included Gareth Bale, Sam Warburton and Geraint Thomas – 6ft 6in Tshiunza excelled at other sports, including high jump.

And school memories, the people who taught him and guided him, in addition to his family and friends, will be recounted when he sings the Welsh national anthem on Saturday at Stade de Nice.

“At the time when you are younger you don’t realise how little things like that shape you as a player later on,” he added.

“Stuff like high jumps, I didn’t know that was going to help me with my lineout because I wasn’t playing rugby properly at the time.

“Throughout the years you look back and all the explosive lineout stuff maybe comes from the little stuff I did when I was younger.

“It is what I say to boys my age that haven’t really kicked on that everything they are doing now, and everything they did a few years ago is going to help them down the line. They just don’t know it yet.

“I started playing rugby a bit later on, in school, and if it wasn’t for the people I met in school I probably wouldn’t be here now.

“When I sing the anthem I will think about the people who helped me along the way, my school friends I started playing with, my school coach Steve Williams, he took me under his wing.

“My family that come to the current games now, they haven’t got a clue, they are like ‘where’s Christ, where’s Christ? Oh, good job, you did something well today’.

“They don’t know the rules, but I am glad they can come and support.”

Warren Gatland has underlined Wales’ desire to go one better than in three previous Rugby World Cup campaigns and reach the final.

They were semi-finalists in 1987, and then twice under Gatland – 2011 and 2019 – bowing out at that stage on each occasion.

A bonus-point victory over Pool C rivals Fiji last weekend sent Wales off and running, and if they repeat the feat against Portugal on Saturday it would further strengthen quarter-final ambitions.

Australia and Georgia still await, before a possible last-eight appointment with England or Argentina in Marseille next month.

“We have always been confident in the past about World Cups and the opportunity to get the team together for an extended period,” Wales head coach Gatland said.

“We think that we have done well in previous World Cups and would like to get to a final of a World Cup.

“I stated beforehand don’t write us off and that this team is capable of doing something special, and I still believe that.

“Part of the key themes and key message before this World Cup was to make sure we are a hard team to beat, and if we are a hard team to beat then things can happen for you.

“The first priority is to be a really tough team to beat, and if we do that and get things right and our preparation is good and we don’t pick up too many injuries, then there is no reason why we can’t continue to progress a long way into this tournament. That is the plan.”

Portugal are next up, with Gatland making 13 changes to the team that started against Fiji, retaining only wing Louis Rees-Zammit and number eight Taulupe Faletau.

The countries have met just once before – a World Cup qualifier in Lisbon 29 years ago that Wales won 102-11 – with Portugal making a first appearance in the tournament’s pool stage since 2007.

Gatland added: “From past experience with Taulupe, he is a player that gets better with more game-time.

“He hasn’t had a lot of rugby, didn’t play any warm-up games, so it’s just backing him up.

“With Louis, it’s the same sort of situation. He has been fantastic in the last five or six weeks, and I just want to keep him playing as well.

“They (Portugal) are kind of a similar version of Fiji. They play a lot of rugby, they’ve got some exciting players, they like to move the ball around, so we are kind of prepared almost in the same way we prepared against Fiji.

“I thought from a neutral last week if you were watching the games, it (Wales against Fiji) was probably the most exciting game of the weekend in terms of the rugby that was played.

“It wasn’t great being a coach sitting in the box in the last 10 minutes, I can promise you that, but hopefully we can produce another great game of rugby.”

Fiji almost wiped out an 18-point deficit during a frantic final quarter in Bordeaux, while centre Semi Radradra couldn’t gather a pass in the dying seconds that might have led to him scoring a match-winning try.

Wales, though, held on in nerve-shredding fashion to claim a victory that has installed them in many quarters as favourites to win their group.

“We were delighted with the win, delighted with the preparation, everything was going brilliantly for 60-odd minutes with the scoreline. And typical Fiji, they get a bit of a sniff and they came back at us really strong in the last period,” Gatland said.

“That game is done and dealt with, it is past us now and the focus is on Portugal. Hopefully we will do a good job on Saturday and then move on to Australia next week.

“It is a great opportunity for players on Saturday to stake a claim, and if they go out there and someone has a great performance then they are definitely in contention. That’s the way I look at it.”

Louis Rees-Zammit has underlined Wales’ “game by game mentality” as they target a second successive Rugby World Cup victory that would strengthen their quarter-final ambitions.

Wales, fresh from a thrilling bonus-point victory over Fiji, tackle Pool C minnows Portugal on Saturday.

A showdown with Australia follows eight days later in Lyon, then Georgia in Nantes as Wales chase a fourth last-eight appearance on the bounce.

“We got the win (against Fiji), which was the main thing, but there is a lot to improve,” Rees-Zammit said.

“We’ve got Portugal next and we know they have got great backs, so it’s going to be a tough game.

“We have got a game by game mentality, and that is our focus. You can’t slip up.

“We respect Portugal. We know they have got some great backs, so we are going to have to train hard this week and get the job done.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made 13 changes to the starting line-up, with only wing Rees-Zammit and number eight Taulupe Faletau remaining from last weekend.

Co-captain Dewi Lake leads Wales after recovering from a knee injury, while scrum-half Tomos Williams wins his 50th cap and there are first World Cup starts for the likes of centre Mason Grady, plus Exeter locks Dafydd Jenkins and lock Christ Tshiunza.

Lake suffered a knee problem during Wales’ World Cup warm-up game against England, but he now returns to pack down alongside front-row colleagues Nicky Smith and Dillon Lewis, and fly-half Gareth Anscombe is also back after injury.

Grady, meanwhile, is partnered in midfield by Johnny Williams, Leigh Halfpenny wins his 101st cap at full-back and another experienced campaigner – flanker Dan Lydiate – also features.

At the age of 34 years, eight months and 26 days, Halfpenny will become the oldest back to play a World Cup game for Wales, surpassing Shane Williams, who was a month younger against Australia in Auckland 12 years ago.

Prop Henry Thomas is the only player in Wales’ 33-strong World Cup squad who will not have started or been named on the bench across the first two games.

Wales’ bonus-point success against Fiji has set them up for a repeat performance against Portugal, who are the Pool C minnows.

They are at their first World Cup since 2007, although their pre-tournament form has been reasonable, including a 46-20 victory over the United States.

Gatland said: “We’ve made a few changes this week given the six-day turnaround.

“This is an opportunity now for this matchday 23. I have said before, but there is some great competition within the squad, which is what we want to see.

“There is a chance now for this group to go out on Saturday and to put down their own marker in the tournament.

“We’ve done a thorough debrief of last week’s game and know the areas we need to improve.

“We have a clear plan of how we want to play on Saturday, and it is about going out there and executing that as we have prepared.

“Portugal are a skilful side and will be raring to go this weekend in their first match of the tournament. We are excited to get back out there.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made 13 changes to the starting line-up for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup Pool C encounter against Portugal in Nice.

Gatland retains just two of the side – wing Louis Rees-Zammit and number eight Taulupe Faletau – that overcame Fiji 32-26 in a ferocious contest last weekend.

Co-captain Dewi Lake leads Wales after recovering from a knee injury, while scrum-half Tomos Williams wins his 50th cap and there are first World Cup starts for the likes of centre Mason Grady and lock Christ Tshiunza.

Lake suffered a knee problem during Wales’ World Cup warm-up game against England, but he now returns to pack down alongside front-row colleagues Nicky Smith and Dillon Lewis.

Tshiunza forges an all-Exeter lock partnership alongside Dafydd Jenkins, with fly-half Gareth Anscombe also back after injury.

Grady, meanwhile, is partnered in midfield by Johnny Williams, Leigh Halfpenny wins his 101st cap at full-back and another experienced campaigner – flanker Dan Lydiate – also features.

Wales kept their Euro 2024 qualification hopes alive with a 2-0 win in Latvia as Aaron Ramsey’s 100th career goal and a David Brooks clincher lifted the pressure on under-fire manager Rob Page.

Ramsey stroked home a 29th-minute penalty – his 21st goal for Wales – before Brooks, on as a substitute for the injured captain, settled matters in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

The victory was Wales’ second in 14 attempts and gives them renewed hope that they can claim a top-two place in Group D.

On a night when Wales simply had to win or be left with a play-off route to Germany next summer, there was further good news before kick-off as group leaders Croatia did them a favour by winning 1-0 in Armenia.

Croatia are Wales’ next Euro opponents in Cardiff next month, and Page can now look forward to that game after heading to Riga with huge question marks over his future.

The 49-year-old was feted as a national hero after leading Wales to their first World Cup for 64 years, but poor performances at that tournament and in this campaign had prompted large parts of the fan base to call for managerial change.

Page had drawn encouragement from Thursday’s friendly with South Korea – and he named 10 of the side who started that goalless draw in Cardiff.

Captain Ramsey returned in place of Nathan Broadhead as Burnley’s Connor Roberts won his 50th cap.

Jordan James made his first competitive start and the 19-year-old suggested he may be a mainstay of the Wales midfield for some time to come.

Latvia had drawn a complete blank in Euro 2024 qualifying, losing all four games, with three of them – including a 1-0 away defeat to Wales in March – by a single goal margin.

The tiny three-sided Skonto Stadium, with cars parked behind one goal, seemed at odds with what was such an important night in Welsh football. But over 1,000 Wales fans were in a crowd of 6,464.

There had been a mood of sporting celebration in Riga throughout the day as Latvians turned out to honour their basketball players, who had recorded a best finish of fifth at the sport’s World Cup, in the city.

Wales should have had the perfect start inside 75 seconds when Ethan Ampadu released Brennan Johnson but Tottenham’s new striker skied over on his unfavoured left side.

Ampadu was off-target from a Harry Wilson corner but Wales were threatening at set-pieces.

Chris Mepham met another Wilson corner at the far post and Ben Davies reached the deflected ball first to force Roberts Ozols into a flying save in the Latvian goal.

Chances continued to come and go for Wales with Johnson wayward again and Ozols producing stops to deny Wilson and Roberts.

There was a danger that frustration would creep in, but Latvia provided a helping hand when Kaspars Dubra bundled over Wilson after 28 minutes.

The incident survived a VAR check for a potential offside in the build-up and Ramsey coolly converted for his landmark goal.

Wales should have been out of sight in the next 10 minutes as Neco Williams and Johnson fired wide when well-placed and Ozols denied Wilson again.

Latvia had shown nothing as an attacking force for 41 minutes before suddenly bursting into life.

Ward shovelled out a Janis Ikaunieks header that Roberts had to clear as the Latvian striker prepared to pounce for the rebound, while Raimonds Krollis almost profited twice after being left unguarded.

Wales suffered a blow four minutes into the second half when Ramsey signalled to the bench to come off, with David Brooks taking his place.

The worry was that Wales would miss Ramsey’s stabilising influence and Krollis went close after Johnson had driven wide.

Latvia might have been reduced to 10 men when Ikaunieks aimed a wild kick at James.

Slovakian referee Michal Ocenas brandished a yellow card before being asked to review the decision at the VAR monitor. After a two-minute check Ocenas stuck with his original decision and Ikaunieks escaped further sanction.

The final quarter became very fragmented with a series of niggly fouls.

Ikaunieks’ 20-yard shot flew into the side netting and, while that would have represented the cruellest punishment for Wales, Brooks ended matters by racing on to Wilson’s pass and scoring with the most delicious of chips.

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