Fiji continued on their winning way defeating a gallant Italy in Canberra to book themselves a quarter-final spot in the Rugby League World Cup. The Fijian back line were again at their exciting best with winger Suliiasi Vunivalu crossing for a hat-trick of tries for the second time in as many weeks.
Fiji over come slow start
Fiji knew that Italy would put up a sterner test than what they had faced in their previous two World Cup matches and despite going down to 12 men early the Azzuri open the scoring through winger Josh Mantellato. After a mistake riddled first half which Fiji led 12-4 it was again Italy who opened the scoring in the second half through centre Nathan Milone who scored one of the best tries of the tournament. Fiji hit back though soon after and from there proved too strong running away with the game in the end, despite the large margin of defeat Italy did themselves proud and the scoreboard didn’t tell the true story.
Naiqama try saver
After Italy’s ‘miracle try’ through Milone Italy seemed to have all the momentum despite trailing 12-10, and with experienced half Terry Campese pulling the strings Italy looked like they were about to take the lead when fullback Mason Cerruto broke the line and looked destined to score. Having got through the front line and seemingly gotten past fullback Kevin Naiqama it looked like Cerruto was going in under posts but for a last-ditch effort from the Fijian captain Naiqama raking the ball free. It proved to be the turning point of the match as Fiji went the length of the field to score the very next set, from there Campese succumbed to an ankle injury and Italy ran out of steam.
Fiji move on
Fiji will now move on to the quarter finals where they will face New Zealand after the Kiwis were upset by Tonga, despite the first half resistance from the Azzuri the Bati haven’t really been tested too much thus far and will now face a Kiwi side hurting from their historic loss. Fiji have coasted through the group stages on the back of their scintillating back line but against the Kiwis they’ll need their forward pack to set the platform and get them into good attacking positions before attempting to spread the ball wide. Their halves combo of Jarryd Hayne and Henry Raiwalui have so far ‘under played’ their hand by just shifting the ball out wide at any opportunity, they’ll need to be more selective on when to go wide and also control the game with the kicking.
Hayne involved in ugly incident
From the kickoff it was apparent Italy had come to play and weren’t going to back down to the Bati, after a few early incidents the game often broke out into pushing and shoving as both sides were getting under each others skins. At the 34th minute the game again broke out into a melee with plenty of players from both sides rushing in, Italy hooker Joe Tramontana threw a punch and was sin binned along with Jarryd Hayne who seemed to do little wrong during the heated exchanges. Once both players left the field and went into the sheds the cameras followed them as Jarryd Hayne seemed to be exchanging barbs with the young Italian rake, at this point Tramontana needed to be held back by the Italian officials in what was a bad look for the game.
Tries Vunivalu 3, Naiqama, Raiwalui, Wiliame, Montoya
Goals Koroisau 3, Milne 2
Tries Mantellato, Milone
at Canberra Stadium. Half time:Fiji 12-4. Crowd: 6733.