Fiji put in a very dominant display as they crushed Wales 72-6 in Townsville on Sunday.
Eloni Vunakece put Fiji in front before Morgan Knowles pulled Wales back into the game. Further tries from Suliasi Vunivalu, Henry Raiwalui, Viliame Kikau (2), Salesi Faingaa, Taane Milne and Akuila Uate saw the Bati lead 42-6 at half-time.
Fiji scored six unanswered tries in the second half through Jarryd Hayne, Vunivalu (2), Milne, Joe Lovodua and Ben Nakubuwai to round off a convincing 72-6 victory.
Mick Potter made two changes to his Fiji side that thrashed USA last week as Salesi Faingaa and Junior Roqica came in for Brayden Williame and Kane Evans.
John Kear made five changes to his Wales outfit that lost in Papua New Guinea last time out. Christiaan Roets, Dalton Grant, Joe Burke, Danny Ansell and Matthew Barron came into the side in place of Andrew Gay, Matt Seamark, Chester Butler, Ben Morris and Sam Hopkins.
Fiji were in control from the word go and scored in the 5th minute through Eloni Vunakece. The Sydney Roosters prop darted in between Phil Joseph and Craig Kopczak to score. Api Koroisau converted to put his side 6-0 up.
Wales soon hit back though with a try of their own. Captain Kopczak produced a marvellous offload to Morgan Knowles who went over. Courtney Davies added the conversion to level the score at 6-6.
The game was tied for less than three minutes due to Melbourne Storm star Suliasi Vunivalu crashing over the top of Elliot Kear to put Fiji back into the lead. Koroisau couldn’t add the conversion but Fiji were in a four-point lead.
Fiji grabbed their second in as many minutes when Henry Raiwalui scored following a fantastic breakaway move. The conversion was good and Fiji were 16-6 ahead.
Midway through the first half, back-rower Viliame Kikau was too powerful for Wales as he stormed through a gap to burst over out wide. Koroisau’s boot took the score to 22-6 for Fiji.
Jarryd Hayne was running the game and everything he did just seemed to be the right decision. He stabbed a grubber into the in-goal area which Salesi Faingaa scored from. The conversion was on target and Fiji were 28-6 to the good.
The Bati were in for another on the half hour mark as Hayne threw a fine cut-out pass to Taane Milne who touched down. Koroisau dragged his conversion attempt wide but they were in a solid 32-6 advantage.
Just two minutes later, Akuila Uate made a magical break, and that’s not even an exaggeration. Nine Dragons defenders tried to tackle the centre and he gave it to Marcelo Montoya near the line who scored. The conversion didn’t hit the target but the Bati were 36-6 to the good.
Fiji scored their eighth try of the game on the verge of half-time as Kikau shrugged off three Wales defenders to score his second. Milne converted to put his side 42-6 to the good at the break.
HALF TIME: Fiji 42–6 Wales.
It took just over a minute following the restart for Fiji to score. Vunivalu made a break and assisted the supporting Hayne who darted beneath the sticks. Milne added the extras to put Fiji in a 48-6 lead.
Try-scoring machine Vunivalu added another for the Bati when he finished acrobatically in the corner. The conversion was good and Fiji led 54-6 with 30 minutes still left to play.
Milne has been one of Fiji’s stand-out players so far in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and he continued his good form by crossing the whitewash again. He couldn’t convert his own try though but the Bati were ahead by 52 points.
Vunivalu completed his hat-trick on the hour following a fine performance from the blockbusting winger. He couldn’t convert his own try but Fiji were 62-6 up.
The Bati were in for another one when Ben Nakubuwai made a quick break and assisted the supporting Joe Lovodua. Vunivalu made no mistake with the conversion this time, Fiji 68-6 Wales.
Fiji scored the last try of the game 10 minutes from time when Nakubuwai bulldozed his way over the line after getting on the end of a flat ball. Milne was back on kicking duties but he couldn’t add the extras as Fiji ran-out 72-6 winners in Townsville following a very dominant display.
FULL TIME: Fiji 72–6 Wales.
Fiji – 72
Tries: Vunakece, Vunivalu 3, Raiwalui, Kikau 2, Faingaa, Milne 2, Montoya, Hayne, Lovodua, Nakubuwai
Goals: Koroisau 4/7, Milne 3/5, Vunivalu 1/2
Wales – 6
Goals: Davies 1/1
Loverugbyleague.com MOM: Suliasi Vunivalu (Fiji)
Fiji: 1. Kevin Naiqama, 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, 20. Salesi Faingaa, 13. Tui Kamikamica.
Interchange: 14. Joe Lovodua, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Junior Roqica, 17. Ben Nakubuwai.
Wales: 1. Elliot Kear, 2. Rhys Williams, 3. Michael Channing, 4. Christiaan Roets, 5. Regan Grace, 6. Courtney Davies, 17. Dalton Grant, 8. Craig Kopczak (C), 9. Steve Parry, 10. Phil Joseph, 11. Rhodri Lloyd, 12. Joe Burke, 13. Morgan Knowles.
Interchange: 7. Danny Ansell, 14. Matty Fozard, 15. Matthew Barron, 16. Ben Evans.
Referee – Chris Kendall