Valentine Holmes scores six as Kangaroos thrash Fiji at World Cup
BRISBANE, Australia – November 26: 10am (Nuku’alofa Times/AAP). Less than a week after becoming the first Kangaroo to score five tries in a Test, Valentine Holmes has broken his record with six in Australia’s 54-6 Rugby League World Cup semi-final rout of Fiji on Friday night.
A ruthless Australia punished an ill-disciplined Bati side by running in 10 tries at Suncorp Stadium to advance to their 12th successive World Cup decider.
They await the winner of today’s other final-four clash between England and Tonga, with the final also to be played in Brisbane next Sunday.
Veteran Billy Slater got a double to jump ahead of Jarryd Hayne as the leading tryscorer in World Cup history, while Dane Gagai also crossed for two. Holmes’ six tries give him a remarkable 12 for the campaign — three tries short of Slater’s World Cup record achieved in 12 games over three World Cup tournaments.
Holmes was playing in just his fifth World Cup game.
The only blemish for Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga was a 60th-minute try to Suliasi Vunivalu, who stumbled across the line to end the Kangaroos’ defensive stand at 277 minutes.
Fiji looked lively early and took the lead with a sixth-minute penalty goal. But the tournament surprise packets spurned any chance of sticking with the reigning champions by giving away numerous penalties and turning over cheap possession. They conceded five penalties in the first half, and finished the night with 12 turnovers. Hayne was twice penalised inside the opening 11 minutes for infringements on Slater, the second of which led to the Kangaroos’ fullback scoring the first try.
Michael Morgan broke through the line to set up Slater in the 14th minute, before his pinpoint kick gave Holmes his first of the night. Holmes’ second and fourth tries came off simple attacking shifts, but the highlight was a 90m intercept in the 42nd minute where he outran Vunivalu and Akuila Uate.
He registered his fifth with another pass from centre Josh Dugan in the 66th minute, before breaking his week-old record with a 60m run in the 76th.
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga gave plenty of credit to his team’s inside men for Holmes’ feats.
“All the inside work was fantastic. The try he scored off the intercept was well read. It’s all the good work inside, too. You gotta give the inside boys a lot of credit,” he said.
Fijian coach Michael Potter said his team were always going to struggle after a poor start.
“It got away from us really early. We were a little ill-disciplined there early on. It cost us field position,” he said.
The thrashing ended Fiji Bati’s fairytale run in the world meet, where they were able to beat New Zealand for the first time.
The Bati defeated New Zealand 4-2 in the quarterfinals – handing the Kiwis their second consecutive loss in two weeks after the Mate Ma’a Tonga side had beaten them also in pool play.
Bati captain Kevin Naiqama thanked the players and officials for their efforts and said fans should be applauded for backing them.
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