By Robert Burgin, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 10/11/13
VIDEO referee Shayne Hayne will no doubt be called upon to explain two tries which went against Fiji, as the Bati suffered a misleading 34-12 loss to England in Hull.
A decision not to award Daryl Millard the first try of a tense Pool A match and the subsequent over-ruling of a touch judge for a Ryan Hall try in the second half minute changed the face of the game.
Fiji stuck it to the home side and were first to score when long-shot Eloni Vunakece came off the bench to accept a pass from a rampaging Tariq Sims.
It was still only 6-all at the break after Ben Westwood responded for the English.
Undoubtedly Rick Stone’s men will look back at the 23rd minute when an otherwise impeccable Sam Tomkins fumbled a Fijian grubber in-goal.
Centre Millard pounced, gliding across to ground the ball.
On review third official Hayne adjudicated that Tomkins had been taken out after spilling the pill, not allowing him to contest the grounding.
For all intents and purposes it seemed a harsh call, with the tackler appearing committed to Tomkins and only precious micro-seconds available for him to recover regardless.
It was a moment that raised the ire of the Fijians, both on the field and in the crowd .
The heated battlefeatured several flare-ups, with Korbin Sims and Brett Ferres standing nose-to-nose at one point and the referee called upon to separate players in both halves.
England were no doubt holders of the territorial advantage and exhibited greater slickness around the ruck.
Yet they were still flustered by the resolute Fijians until the second stanza.
Man of the match Sam Burgess, having earlier dropped the ball across the line, inched England ahead 12-6 a matter of seconds after halftime with a powerful run.
When Ferres crossed from a simple hand-off in the 44th minute and skipper Kevin Sinfield converted for an 18-6 advantage, Fiji certainly had a mountain to climb.
Yet it did not seem an insurmountable hurdle until a bemusing decision to allow Ryan Hall a try down a narrow left-hand touchline in the 49th minute.
The touch judge stood his ground and ruled no try, while multiple video replays failed to show clear separation between Hall’s boot and the sideline.
Still the graphic for ‘Try’ flashed across the big screen and the spirit of Fiji was broken.
A 24-6 lead soon became 34-6 with the English sticking the boot in with another try to Hall and one to a scampering Rob Burrow.
Semi Radradra restored a late degree of credibility to the sideline, dotting down for a flying effort in the 72nd minute after a great run from fellow winger Marika Koroibete.
Both teams now look forward to the quarter finals where they will either face Samoa or France, depending on results this weekend.
Fiji will be hoping to have strike-weapons Akuila Uate and Sisa Waqa back in the line-up after both were rested with minor niggles.
ENGLAND 34 (Ryan Hall 2, Ben Westwood, Sam Burgess, Brett Ferres, Rob Burrow tries; Kevin Sinfield 5 goals) d FIJI 12 (Eloni Vunakece, Semi Radradra tries; Wes Naiqama 2 goals) at KC Stadium, Hull. Referee: Ben Cummins. Crowd: 25,114. Official Man of the Match: Sam Burgess.