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The Australian Kangaroos have proven too good for a spirited Fiji Bati, running out convincing 52-0 winners in the Rugby League World Cup Semi-Final at the Sydney Football Stadium tonight.
The result sets up a trans-Tasman World Cup Final to be staged between Australia and New Zealand in Brisbane next Saturday.
A double to winger Brent Tate, and hat tricks to fullback Billy Slater and halfback Johnathan Thurston - Thurston's three four-pointers being scored in the space of 10 minutes - added to the rout which saw Australia pile on 10 tries to nil.
Australia dominated possession in the opening stages to race away to a 22-0 lead after just 16 minutes of play. Fiji however, weathered the early onslaught and lifted midway through the first half.
With field position going their way, Fiji were perhaps unlucky not to have scored. But the host nation turned the tables late in the second half with Slater bagging his second try and Australia posting a 26-0 lead at the break.
Slater picked up his third try in the 47th minute before Fiji once again muscled up in defence, giving their opposites plenty to think about. With champion five-eighth Darren Lockyer sporting a shiner following a big hit from Jarryd Hayne, the Aussies for a brief moment appeared rattled by the Fiji defence.
But the class of the Kangaroos was never far away as Thurston laid on three tries in quick time to take the honours.
A late try to centre Greg Inglis brought up the final scoreline; but not without a brave Fiji side attempting to have the final say on the scoreboard in the closing stages.
The victory for Australia may have come at a cost with Brent Tate being forced off in the first half with a hip injury, putting the Warriors outside back in doubt for the Final. For Fiji, winger Akuila Uate suffered a knee injury.
Match Details Australia 52 def Fiji 0 World Cup Semi-finals - Sunday :: November 16th, 2008 7:55pm Venue: Sydney Football Stadium Referee: Ashley Klein Video Referee: Steve Clark Half time: Australia 26-0 Crowd: 15,855
Tries: Paul Gallen, Brent Tate (2), Billy Slater (3), Johnathan Thurston (3), Greg Inglis
Goals: Johnathan Thurston (6/10)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Johnathan Thurston (Australia) 2 Points: Darren Lockyer (Australia) 1 Point: Billy Slater (Australia)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Players coming onto the field - the winner going through to play NZ in the World Cup Final next week. Pundits predicting a big win to Australia. Underdogs Fiji are full of heart and will be looking to cause an upset. National Anthems underway, and the Fijian prayer... kick off soon... Fiji will have the breeze in the first half. Australia to kick off. KICK OFF!
3 min: TRY Australia Paul Gallen crashes over under the posts. Billy Slater involved in the lead up. Follows a turnover from Fiji in the opening set. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. Australia 6-0
6 min: TRY Australia Brent Tate scores in the corner. Australia with all the ball and Thurston is carving them up. Omnious signs. Conversion attempt by Thurston unsuccessful. Australia 10-0
10 min: TRY Australia Billy Slater scores from a Thurston kick. Follows some video ref scrutiny on the challenge but Australia get the green light. Fiji have only had the ball for two tackles. Conversion attempt right in front from Thurston is successful. Australia 16-0
16 min: TRY Australia Tate gets a double, scoring under the sticks. A break from Israel Folau and then a bigger break downfield from Tate after Fiji were actually on the attack for a brief while. Conversion attempt by Thurston successful. Australia 22-0
22 min: INJURY - Australia winger Brent Tate comes off. Looks like a hip or leg injury. Replaced by Karmichael Hunt.
24 min: Fiji captain Wes Naiqama makes a great break. In the following kick ahead and scramble, Australia appear to knock on through Thurston, but the ref misses it. Australia off the hook but some bright play from Fiji.
30 min: Fiji lifting and making a game of it as a couple of handling errors are creeping into Australia's play. Naiqama charges at the line. In the next ruck Fiji force Australia into a line drop out.
34 min: Fiji now with another repeat set at the Australian line.
35 min: Grubber kick from Fiji's James Storer was well placed but Joel Monaghan cleans it up and gets back into the field of play.
38 min: TRY Australia Slater goes himself in the corner, turning on some blistering pace and strength from close range. A heart breaker for Fiji who were winning the battle for territory in the previous 15 minutes. Conversion attempt by Thurston unsuccessful. Australia 26-0
41 min: Fiji winger Akuila Uate forced off after falling awkwardly in a tackle. Looks like a knee injury.
47 min: TRY Australia Slater gets a hat trick, scoring out wide after a brilliant long pass from Darren Lockyer. Conversion attempt by Thurston successful. Australia 32-0
53 min: HELD UP - Fiji denied after Waisele Sukanaveita is held up over the line. Follows an earlier attacking raid from a Fijian side looking to get on the board.
56 min: Lockyer smashed by a big hit from Jarryd Hayne. Tremendous stuff as some feeling is coming into the match.
58 min: DUST UP - Hayne and Folau at it as the heat turns up.
62 min: TRY Australia Thurston finding a hole through two defenders as Australia have the numbers wide of the ruck. Conversion attempt by Thurston unsuccessful. Australia 36-0
67 min: TRY Australia Thurston again and the floodgates have definitely opened. Fiji matching up physically but Australia with just too much class across the paddock. Follows big hit on Ashton Sims from Anthony Laffranchi to win possession, and a break with Karmichael Hunt serving up an inside pass to Thurston. Conversion right in front by Thurston is successful. Australia 42-0
72 min: TRY Australia Thurston scores his first, second and then third try for Australia, getting a hat trick in the space of 10 minutes. Survives video ref scrutiny over a possible knock-on after Hayne loses the ball for Fiji. Conversion attempt by Thurston successful. Australia 48-0
74 min: Fiji restart with a kick off that goes out on the full. Slater catching the ball on the full with his foot on the line.
76 min: TRY Australia Greg Inglis scores in the corner after Lockyer delivers a beaut pass in traffic. Inglis takes out the corner post during the put down but he gets the benefit of the doubt from the video ref. Close call but its a try on the scoreboard and Australia chalk up the half century. Conversion attempt by Thurston unsuccessful. Australia 52-0
78 min: Fiji on the attack and come close, only to have a pass ruled forward by a stingy ref. Great defence from Australia but Fiji were never going to die wondering.