The Cardiff Blues wing took his try tally at the 2019 tournament to four in three matches as he helped to steer Wales back to the top of their pool and into the quarter-finals with the 29-17 victory at the Oita Stadium.
WALES’ WORLD CUP HAT TRICK HEROES
1987 3 Glenn Webbe v Tonga
1987 4 Ieuan Evans v Canada
1995 3 Gareth Thomas v Japan
2011 3 Scott Williams v Namibia
2015 3 Cory Allen v Uruguay
2019 3 Josh Adams v Fiji
“I thought Josh was very good and the way he finished some of those tries took real skill. He was unlucky with another one, which was touch and go,” said Gatland.
“The second try was a great finish in the corner and I thought he had an outstanding game and showed some good footwork. He’s been a real find for us over the last year or so.”
The hard-fought, bruising victory over the Fijians meant Gatland and his coaching team can now plan for a third successive quarter-final. They still have to play Uruguay on Sunday and, if they can make it four from four in their pool, it will be the first time they have gone unbeaten at the pool stages since 1987 and will be the first time they have topped their pool since 1999.
“We’re absolutely delighted to be in the quarter-finals. I think everyone’s fear is not getting out of your pool,” said Gatland.
“Once you do that you just have to take things one game at a time. We’ve had some pretty good success in the last 18 months or so and this team has shown some great character.
“We’ve played in games where we’ve dominated and played in games where we’ve come from behind and showed some great composure. Today was one of those games.
“It will be the knock-out stages next, but only after Uruguay. I just want to stress that we can’t start thinking about the quarter-finals, even though we know we’re there.
“We’ve got a job to do on Sunday and there will be an opportunity for players to stake a claim for a quarter-final berth or potentially later on in this tournament.”
The final pool match will give Gatland the chance to give those players who have yet to play in Japan – Hallam Amos, Aled Davies, Ryan Elias, Bradley Davies, Adam Beard – a run out. With Dan Biggar nursing an injury, Rhys Patchell looks set to start at No 10, although Gatland has revealed he has an extra option to play in the pivotal role if necessary.
“We’ve been running Hallam Amos at 10 in training and he’s looked pretty sharp there. Hadleigh Parkes was talked about and Liam Williams,” revealed Gatland.
“We’ll sit down as coaches and look at that. Some players are going to have to back-up, particularly backs. We may go for a 6-2 split on the bench with six forwards.
“We’ll weigh those options up in terms of who we think can do the job for us. Gareth Davies went on the wing for us today and he did a job for us there.
“We’ve got players who may be a little unfamiliar, but we have been running players there at training. With the short turnaround, we need to freshen players up.
“Hopefully, we’re good enough to do a job on Sunday to secure this group.”