Josh Adams scored his fifth try of the Rugby World Cup as Wales beat Uruguay 35-13 at Kumamoto Stadium to set up a quarter-final against France.
Warren Gatland’s side made hard work of sealing top spot in Pool D, but scored five tries to ensure they will face Les Bleus at Oita Stadium next Sunday, while Australia will meet England at the same venue 24 hours earlier.
Nicky Smith scored the only five-pointer of the first half and Adams become the outright leading try-scorer in the tournament after the break, with Tomos Williams and Gareth Davies also crossing after Wales were awarded a penalty try.
Uruguay were magnificent in defence as they bowed out with a spirited performance, German Kessler scoring their only try and Felipe Berchesi notching eight points with the boot.
Hallam Amos had three tries ruled out, but Wales made it four wins out of four to finish three points clear of the Wallabies despite being a long way from their best, Halfpenny converting four times in a man-of-the-match display.
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Wales were disjointed in the opening stages but were eventually rewarded for applying huge pressure when prop Smith breached a resolute Uruguay defence, powering over from close range after 16 minutes.
Berchesi reduced the deficit to four points with a fine strike from the tee after Halfpenny converted Smith’s score, and Amos was denied Wales’ second try due to a forward pass from Hadleigh Parkes.
Handling errors prevented the Six Nations champions from getting into a rhythm and a second Berchesi penalty made it 7-6 at the break.
The clinical in-form Adams gave Wales breathing space when he took an inviting pass from Rhys Patchell to finish in the corner, Halfpenny expertly nailing a difficult conversion.
Amos had another score disallowed, again for a forward pass from Parkes, but referee Angus Gardner awarded Wales a penalty try when Uruguay were unable to legally stop a driving maul after Santiago Civetta was sin-binned.
Kessler had a moment to remember when he dived over with a pick-and-go before Williams picked up a loose ball to grab the bonus-point try, with Halfpenny converting superbly.
Amos was frustrated again when he lost control as he went to touch down, but Davies raced away long after the clock had turned red to go under the posts and Halfpenny converted, leaving the scoreline looking harsh on Uruguay.
High five for clinical Adams
Adams followed up his hat-trick against Fiji by moving out on his own at the top of the try-scoring charts.
The wing moved ahead of Argentina’s Julian Montoya and Japan’s Kotaro Matsushima onto five tries.
While Adams can seemingly do no wrong, it was definitely not Amos’ day as he could have had a hat-trick but ultimately ended up without a single five-pointer.
Uruguay go down with a fight
The margin of victory may suggest Uruguay were comfortably second best, but they signed off with a tenacious performance and trailed by only a point at half-time.
They made as many as 200 tackles, putting bodies on the line throughout. Juan Manuel Cat was among those to impress, not missing one of his 16 tackles and winning two turnovers.
Key Opta Facts
– Wales have won all four of their matches. Not since 1987 have they won all of their games in the pool stage of the tournament and on that occasion they played just three pool matches.
– Adams has scored eight Test tries in 2019, only three times before has a player scored more in a calendar year for Wales.
– Davies’ try was his seventh in a World Cup match. Only Shane Williams (10) has more for Wales.
– Uruguay are one of just five sides not to lose a scrum on their own feed at this World Cup – winning all 35.
Wales are expected to welcome back Dan Biggar, Jonathan Davies and George North when they do battle with Six Nations rivals France, while Uruguay are on their way home.
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