Fiji ran riot in Townsville crossing the line for eleven tries as the inexperienced Hawks were no match for the powerful Bati side boasting fifteen players with NRL experience.
From the opening set it was obvious the Hawks were going to struggle to contain the Fijian back five and it only took them two minutes to cross the line through Taane Milne. The Fijians continued to get the ball to their ‘right side attack’ and the combination of Jarryd Hayne, Suli Vunivalu and Milne were having a field day. Despite not seeing as much action Aku Uate still managed a brilliant solo try beating four defenders to cross for his own four pointer. In the end the Fijian back line accounted for over 700 metres, nine line breaks and seven tries.
Big Men Boss Middle
Although it was the Bati speedsters out wide who got most of the credit the big men in the middle laid a solid platform and dominated their opponents. The middle battle was one area the Hawks were expected the compete in but despite loosing Kane Evans to a broken wrist the Fijian forwards dominated the middle exchanges. Melbourne Storm youngster Tui Kamikamica led the way with 122 metres of 14 hit ups whilst Viliame Kikau was destructive on the edges with 171 metres off 16 carries. The Bati will face bigger challenges as the tournament goes on but will take confidence from winning by such margin.
Injury Toll Rises
There were a few injuries to come out of the first weekend of the tournament but no side has been hit harder than the Bati. Going into the World Cup Fiji had a number of stars ruled due to injury and also lost Regan Campbell-Gillard as he was selected by Australia, but they have now lost another two starting forwards for the remainder of the tournament. Korbin Sims was ruled out prior to kick off and will take no part in the World Cup whilst Kane Evans suffered a badly broken wrist after scoring a try in the first half. It’s very unfortunate for the Bati to lose so many quality players but they will continue their quest for a third straight semi final berth without their injured stars.
Out of the Depth
The USA Hawks were the feel good story of the 2013 edition of the Rugby League World Cup surprising their more fancied opponents as they progress to the quarter finals. But a repeat looks unlikely for Team USA as they were outclassed by Fiji on Saturday night. The decision to focus on growing the game locally and selecting more players from the domestic league seemed to back fire in the first half as the Bati ran in try after try, but a more spirited second half gave the Hawks fans something to cheer.
Fiji Bati 58
Tries: Taane Milne 2, Kevin Naiqama 2, Suli Vunivalu 2, Aku Uate, Kane Evans, Jarryd Hayne, Viliame Kikau, Henry Raiwalui
Goals: Apisai Koroisau 5, Taane Milne 2
USA Hawks 12
Tries: Matt Shipway, Junior Vaivai
Goals: Bureta Faraimo 2
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