Wales hardly needed to get out of second gear and cruised to a 35-13 win over a willing Uruguayan team in Kumamoto City on Sunday.
Wales held a slender 7-6 lead after a scrappy first half, but four second-half tries – including a penalty try – saw them race away from the South Americans.
It saw them finish top of Pool D and they will face France in the quarterfinals next week.
A largely second-string Welsh side committed a slew of handling errors and forward passes but eventually had too much firepower for their South American rivals.
A day after Typhoon Hagibis had wreaked havoc across Japan, conditions were perfect for running rugby at Kumamoto Stadium on southern Kyushu island.
But in a match that should have been straightforward for the Six Nations champions, Wales – who played a bruising game with Fiji only four days earlier – struggled to establish their dominance.
Coach Warren Gatland said Wales were “poor at times” but added that he was happy to come through the game without further injuries, and expected to have a full squad to choose from against France.
“Hopefully everyone will be fit and available for next week. Nothing looks serious from tonight,” he said.
“We had a couple of guys who were pretty sore after the Fiji game – two or three of them – but they should be back training in a couple of days so we should have a full complement to be able to choose from.”
When the final whistle blew Wales had enjoyed 66 percent of possession and 73 percent of territory, yet it took three tries in the last 15 minutes to give them a respectable scoreline.
For most of the match it was a sloppy display, although Wales at least completed pool play unbeaten for the first time since the inaugural World Cup in 1987.
Uruguay, who shocked Fiji in their tournament opener, threatened an even bigger upset when they trailed by only one point at half-time.
Wales had dominated all the right statistics, forcing Uruguay to make 90 tackles while missing 19 more in the opening 40 minutes.
But they seemed bereft of ideas and finesse, letting themselves down with a succession of knock-ons, and turned only 7-6 ahead.
Errors cost Amos
Gatland, who made 13 changes to the side that started against Fiji on Wednesday, could not have been impressed with the high error-count.
Wales camped inside the Uruguay 22 for most of the first 16 minutes before they were eventually rewarded with a try.
Bradley Davies had lost the ball close to the line early in the match and Aaron Shingler put a foot in touch as he dived for the line, before prop Nicky Smith broke the deadlock when he drove over from close range.
Wales were unable to score again in the half, blowing another scoring opportunity when Hadleigh Parkes and Hallam Amos combined in a 50-metre run only for the final pass to float forward.
It was the first of three times Amos crossed the line and each time the try was ruled out – twice for forward passes, and one knock-on.
Uruguay, meanwhile, made the most of the scraps that went their way with Felipe Berchesi landing two penalties to keep the pressure on Wales.
Josh Adams, Wales’ three-try hero against Fiji, opened the scoring in the second half to push Wales out to a 14-6 lead before their late scoring burst.
When Uruguay flank Santiago Civetta was yellow-carded for repeated fouls, Wales used the one-man advantage to drive at the line which resulted in a penalty try.
Uruguay were not done and fought back to drive over for a try of their own to hooker German Kessler.
But Wales had too much energy at the end and Tomos Williams added a fourth try before Davies scampered 40 metres for Wales’s final five-pointer.
Man of the match: Diminutive Uruguayan flank Juan Manuel Gaminara literally punched way above his weight. Josh Adams and Hallam Amos asked plenty of questions of the Uruguayan defence. Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Shingler and Bradley Davies were the most productive forwards. Our award goes to Wales scrumhalf Aled Davies – who provided crisp service to his outside backs, made a few telling snipes, one clean break, beat five defenders and 10 tackles, without missing any.
Moment of the match: Wales may have won and scored some entertaining tries in the process, but the crowd thoroughly enjoyed the try by Uruguay hooker German Kessler in the 71st minute and so did we.
Villain: No villains, not even the yellow card for Santiago Civetta.
Tries: Smith, Adams, penalty try, Williams, G Davies
Cons: Halfpenny 4, penalty try does not require a conversion
Pens: Berchesi 2
Yellow card: Santiago Civetta (Uruguay, 64 – repeated infringements; slowing the ball down illegally)
15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Hadleigh Parkes,
11 Hallam Amos, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7
Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Bradley
Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Wyn Jones, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 James Davies, 22 Tomos Williams, 23 Gareth Davies.
15 Gaston Mieres, 14 Leandro Leivas, 13 Juan Manuel Cat, 12 Andres
Vilaseca, 11 Nicolas Freitas, 10 Felipe Berchesi, 9 Santiago Arata, 8
Alejandro Nieto, 7 Santiago Civetta, 6 Juan Manuel Gaminara, 5 Manuel
Leindekar, 4 Ignacio Dotti, 3 Diego Arbelo, 2 German Kessler, 1 Mateo
Replacements: 16 Guillermo Pujadas, 17 Juan Echeverria, 18 Juan Pedro Rombys, 19 Diego Magno, 20 Manuel Diana, 21 Agustin Ormaechea, 22 Tomas Inciarte, 23 Rodrigo Silva.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)