Tolu Latu scored a second-half brace to help Australia beat Fiji 39-21 in their Pool D World Cup opener in Sapporo on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Fiji were expected to give Australia a tough contest and did exactly that in the first half of the match, rattling the Wallabies with some massive hits and powerful carries.
The Pacific Islanders were well worth their 14-12 half-time lead, courtesy of a try from flank Peceli Yato, who had an excellent 27 minutes before suffering a head knock, and two penalties from flyhalf Ben Volavola.
Australia were guilty of playing a game that suited Fiji during this time and they were far too loose, gifting the Fijian wings opportunities with ball in hand. Michael Cheika’s charges would, therefore, be pleased with the bonus-point victory as during this stage it looked as if they would struggle to get the win.
The Wallabies found their way back into the match in the latter stages of the first half by looking to their dominant scrum and maul, while they were also helped by some poor wide defence which allowed Marika Koroibete to run rampant on the left wing.
Aside from an early intercept try from Fijian centre Waisea Nayacalevu, the second half belonged to Australia. The Wallabies dominated territory and held on to the ball far better. Fiji lost their discipline with Levani Botia getting sent to the sin bin, and ran out of puff allowing Australia to score 27 unanswered points.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) September 21, 2019
Australia – Tries: Michael Hooper, Reece Hodge, Tolu Latu (2), Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano, Matt Toomua (2). Penalty: Reece Hodge.
Fiji – Tries: Peceli Yato, Waisea Nayacalevu. Conversions: Ben Volavola. Penalties: Volavola (3).
Australia – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 James O’Connor, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 David Pocock, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Lukhan Salakia-Loto, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Dane Haylett-Petty.
Fiji – 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Lepani Botia, 11 Semi Radradra, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Peceli Yato, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu (c), 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Peni Ravai, 2 Samuel Matavesi, 1 Campese Ma’afu.
Subs: 16 Tuvere Vugakoto, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Mosese Voka, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Alivereti Veitokani, 23 Vereniki Goneva.
Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images