Australia 34 (Josh Papalii, Darius Boyd, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Daly Cherry-Evans, Luke Lewis tries; Johnathan Thurston 5 goals)
Fiji 2 (Alipate Noilea goal)
Australia go to the top of Pool A at a cost after their 34-2 victory over Fiji at a wet and windy Langtree Park in St Helens.
Luke Lewis late in the game suffered a World Cup campaign ending shoulder dislocation after sliding into advertising boarding chasing a ball into the in-goal. Lewis was down for several minutes before trainers assisted him from the field.
Fiji held the lead early thanks to an early penalty goal within the first ten minutes. Their lead was erased at the fifteen minute mark with Josh Papalii crashing over from close to the line. Tries to Darius Boyd and Michael Jennings exposed the Bati’s right side defence. Two superb sideline conversions from Thurston in the swirling conditions put the Kangaroos ahead 16-2 at the main break.
Josh Morris scored five minutes after the break thanks to a nice ball from Jarryd Hayne, and a James Tamou break set up Daly Cherry-Evans for Australia’s fifth try to extend the margin to twenty-six points. With fifteen minutes to go Lewis scored the Kangaroo’s final try.
For all the Kangaroo’s dominance on occasions their execution was poor. In particular, some sloppy play the balls with Andrew Fifita at one stage guilty of playing the ball too quickly. Michael Jennings was rusty on a couple of occasions with wild passes over the touchline. Cherry-Evans was solid starting for a rested Cooper Cronk and Thurston looked dangerous with the ball.
Fiji to their credit never gave up but just lack that quality in the halves where their kicking game lacked substance. Tariq Sims was outstanding in defeat and Petero Civinoceva on his swan song from rugby league showed true leadership.
Player of the Match
Greg Inglis had a strong game showing composure at the back on a wet night. Despite not scoring, his one nine break and 189 metres made was the best on field. He just looked too powerful and strong for the gallant Bati.
Australia are outright leaders in Pool A with both Fiji and England one win behind. Ireland are without a tournament victory and look certain to be knocked out at the pool stage as they face the Kangaroos next Saturday. Bati coach Rick Stone asked of his players to play with composure and not let emotion get the better of them. He can be quite proud of his team. Tim Sheens has announced he will seek a replacement for Lewis in the wake of his injury. Australia will be looking to polish their attacking game next week ahead of the knock-out stage of the competition.