By John Davidson, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 3/11/13
Australia recorded a 34-2 thumping of Fiji in St Helens but may have lost Luke Lewis to injury for the rest of the tournament.
In terrible conditions at Langtree Park, the Kangaroos did what they needed to do in a six-try romp.
It was cold, it was wet and it was windy, but the Aussies had too much firepower for the freezing Fijians.
Considering the wild wind, Jonathan Thurston did a fantastic job converting five of his six shots at goal. The man of the match winner worked well with new halfback partner Daly Cherry-Evans, who was also bright and crossed for a try of his own.
Fiji started the game well and got on the scoreboard first with an early penalty. But that was the only points the Bati would get after Australia started slowly but warmed up as the match went on. With a no-try call on a Josh Morris try in the opening stanza, rookie Josh Papalli got a try on his run-on debut in the 14th minute after a good pass from Cherry-Evans.
Ball handling was poor from both sides at times thanks to the often driving rain and wet ball. The strength of Greg Inglis paid off in the 21nd minute, an offload by the Souths fullback setting up Darius Boyd’s try in the corner.
Michael Jennings crossed nine minutes later and Fiji were on the backfoot. The crowd got behind the Bati but they were unable to convert their pressure and possession into points.
Australian went into the break 16-2 ahead but quickly extended their lead in the 44th minute thanks to Morris, after a lovely leap and offload from Jarryd Hayne.
The Kangaroos bombed a few tries due to wayward passes and being over eager at times, but it was another rookie in Cherry-Evans who scored on 56 minutes.
In the 60 minute the biggest roar of the night from the 14,137 crowd came as Fiji almost scored, but it wasn’t to be. A minute later there was a desperate and almost comical dash for the line but it was ruled no-try by the video referee.
The Aussies were in again on 66 minutes with Lewis getting a try. Two minutes later he dived to score another one, as a Thurston grubber dribbled in the Fijian in-goal, but Lewis’ momentum took him into an advertising board with devastating effect. The Cronulla Shark was badly injured and is believed to be out for the rest of the World Cup with a dislocated shoulder, a terrible blow for the green and gold.
Australia now head to Limerick to face Ireland while Fiji move to Hull for a big clash against the hosts England to determine who will finish second in Group A.