Valentine Holmes scored six tries to help Australia reach the Rugby League World Cup final as they beat Fiji 54-6 in Brisbane on Friday.
Fiji took an early lead thanks to an Api Koroisau penalty goal but it was near enough all Australia from then on. Tries from Billy Slater, Valentine Holmes (2) and Dane Gagai saw the Kangaroos lead 22-2 at half-time.
Efforts from Holmes (2) and Slater put Australia 40-2 ahead before Suliasi pulled one back for Fiji. Further tries from Holmes (2) and Gagai saw Australia progress to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup final with a fine 54-6 victory over Fiji.
Mal Meninga named an unchanged Australia side to the one that trashed Samoa in the quarter-finals last week. Cameron Smith captained the Kangaroos.
Mick Potter also didn’t make a change to his Fiji outfit that edged past New Zealand last time out. Kevin Naiqama skippered the Bati from full-back.
There was a bit of biff in the early stages of the game but it was Fiji who showed signs of promise at the beginning. They took the lead in the sixth minute when Api Koroisau added a penalty goal from 20 metres out.
Australia were looking dangerous in attack and scored the first try of the game when they passed it along the line to Billy Slater who found a gap to score. Cameron Smith converted to put his in a 6-2 lead after 13 minutes.
Meninga’s men got their second shortly after. Fiji star Suliasi Vunivalu failed to deal with a chip into the corner from Australia and Valentine Holmes raced onto the ball to score. Captain Smith added the conversion and the Kangaroos were 12-2 to the good.
Fiji were struggling to deal with what Australia were offering in attack. The Kangaroos went over again midway through the first half as they used the space out wide as Holmes grabbed his second. Smith’s conversion attempt went wide of the mark, Australia 16-2 Fiji.
The Kangaroos extended their lead on the half hour mark. They were throwing the ball about and the ball landed in the hands of Queensland ace Dane Gagai who showed great feet to dive over. The conversion was on target and Australia were 22-2 ahead.
Michael Morgan thought he had scored for Australia late on in the first half but it was ruled out by the video referee due to a knock-on by Slater earlier in the play. The Kangaroos went into the sheds 22-2 to the good.
HALF TIME: Australia 22–2 Fiji.
Australia couldn’t have wished for a better start to the second half. Fiji looked to be in but Holmes intercepted a pass to race 90 metres and touch down, completing his hat-trick. Smith converted to put his side 28-2 in front.
Slater got his second has he threw a dummy to trick the Bati defence and score straight from a scrum. Smith’s boot made the score 34-2 to Australia.
Holmes got his fourth in the 51st minute. Australia passed it through quick hands to the Cronulla Sharks star who touched down for his ninth try in the last two games. The conversion from Smith was good, Australia 40-2 Fiji.
Fiji hit back with their first try of the game on the hour. Melbourne Storm star Vunivalu did very well to pick up a low pass and reach over the line. Koroisau couldn’t convert and the Bati were 40-6 behind.
Holmes got try number five in the final quarter following a fine pass from Josh Dugan. Smith converted to put his side in a 46-6 advantage.
Meninga’s outfit were playing with such intensity and skill, it was great to watch. They were in for another as Gagai stepped Taane Milne to go over for his second. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but Australia were 50-6 ahead.
Holmes set a new record with six tries in a single World Cup fixture in the 75th minute. Smith failed to convert but the Kangaroos ran in 10 tries to reach the 2017 Rugby League World Cup with a 54-6 victory over the Bati.
FULL TIME: Australia 54–6 Fiji.
Australia – 54
Tries: Slater 2, Holmes 6, Gagai 2
Goals: Smith 7/10
Fiji – 6
Goals: Koroisau 1/2
Loverugbyleague.com MOM: Valentine Holmes (Australia)
Australia: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Dane Gagai, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Josh Dugan, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Cameron Smith (C), 10. David Klemmer, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire.
Interchange: 14. Wade Graham, 15. Jordan McLean, 16. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 17. Tyson Frizell.
Fiji: 1. Kevin Naiqama (C), 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Taane Milne, 4. Akuila Uate, 5. Marcelo Montoya, 6. Jarryd Hayne, 7. Henry Raiwalui, 8. Ashton Sims, 9. Api Koroisau, 10. Eloni Vunakece, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Brayden Wiliame, 13. Tui Kamikamica.
Interchange: 14. Joe Lovodua, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Junior Roqica, 17. Ben Nakubuwai.
Referee – Gerard Sutton