Up 10-0 early in the game Fiji forced Wales deep into the second half before they could feel any comfort from the outcome.
Fiji coach John McKee described the effort as gallant in taking it to such a good Welsh side.
"It's pleasing for me that finally we've had an opportunity on the world stage to show what this team's capable of," he said.
Three times the Fijians looked to have opened the Wales defence only to be called back for forward passes.
"It's a game of inches, it's a game of moments and you look at probably two opportunities there, even maybe a third one, that we lost with forward passes which cost you big when the game's so close," McKee said.
Fiji had gone into the contest looking to stretch the Six Nations champions.
"We had to really attack Wales, we knew we wouldn't win an arm wrestle or a penalty shoot out with them, we had to really back ourselves to score tries," he said.
"You saw today we didn't take penalty shots, we took scrums or kicked to the corner. We chanced our arm a little bit and backed our attacking play to see if we could put them under pressure and to see how they reacted and for large parts of that game that worked really well for us," he said.
In spite of that it had been a tournament that ended disappointingly for the side which was not helped by the upset 27-30 loss to Uruguay.
"We came here with really high aspirations, we did want to get to the playoffs, that was one of our objectives and we haven't achieved that, so that's disappointing but having said that the World Cup is a massively competitive environment and it is very difficult to get out of the pool phases for any team.
"For me we can go away from this tournament with our heads held high after our performance today," he said.
McKee said Fiji's hopes of moving higher and into Tier One territory was based around improving communications with their overseas players so they were ready when called in to international windows of opportunity while they were also working through their Academy and Under-20s development programme and with a side playing in the Australian national championship.
There was a pathway available to players as halfback Frank Lomani had demonstrated against Wales.
"It is really important that we continue to work to strengthen that pathway and then those players it leads to them getting professional careers.
"But it is difficult because every World Cup the competition gets higher and higher. In 2015 we thought we did okay then with a lot of work we could do better but we haven't because the whole competition gets tougher so international rugby is a competitive world," he said.
Wing Semi Radradra had shown his ability when being named man of the match in a losing team
Captain and loose forward Dominiko Waqaniburotu said the effort against Wales had shown what the team was capable of when they all got back together.
"We're capable of doing way, way better in the future," he said.
It was difficult playing away from Fiji and maintaining contact with the rugby programme but it was an aspect they had to work on so there was connection year after year.
"It's a small build-up for us, taking it step by step every year but hopefully come the next World Cup we'll be in a much better position than we are this year.