A full review of Australia's opening World Cup win over Fiji in Cardiff
Australia kicked off their World Cup campaign with a victory over Fiji in Cardiff, but they will be disappointed not to have picked up a bonus point. David Pocock crossed twice in the first half and Sekope Kepu scored early in the second, but then Fiji came back into the game and piled on the pressure in Australia’s half to deny the Wallabies that fourth try.
Scrum – How nice it was to see an upright contest at the scrums rather than constant collapses and resets. The first scrum set the standard, both sides holding steady and a traditional battle of strength coming to the fore. In fact, referee Glen Jackson called it “outstanding” and the majority of scrums were of a similar quality.
Leone Nakarawa – What a year this guy is having. First he wins the Guinness Pro12 with Glasgow and now he is proving the star of this Fijian team. He’s renowned for his offloads, which maintain attacking momentum, while he is also impressing in terms of turnovers at this World Cup (he made another three in this game after getting four against England on Friday) – and he even stole an Australia lineout on the 5m line.
The rolling maul – Given the back-lines these two sides have many will have expected this to be a game of all-out attack, players running from deep and showing off nifty footwork and sharp hands. Instead, it was the driving lineout that proved the attacking weapon of choice in the first half. Fiji went close from a couple of lineouts in the Aussie 22 then the Wallabies launched their own driving mauls, David Pocock touching down twice in the space of five minutes.
Weekday crowds – For nigh-on 70,000 people to pile into the Millennium Stadium on a midweek afternoon is testament to the pull of the World Cup.
Discipline – The penalty counts of both sides will not have pleased either coach. Fiji were penalised 13 times and Australia 12. Okay, a lot of the penalties conceded weren’t in a kickable range, but that sort of ill-discipline will cost them in games going forward.
Bad hair – Admittedly we could only see this from high up in the press tribune but it was pointed out by a colleague that assistant referee Leighton Hodges had a rather unusual haircut for an official. Shaved all round the sides with a fair clump on top it looked like the ‘high and tight’ cut favoured by Danny Care. One best left to players.
Boo boys – It’s long been a bugbear, and the booing and whistling as Bernard Foley lined up a late penalty tarnished what had been a great atmosphere. It simply has no place in the game.
13 – The number of offloads made by Fiji compared to two by Australia.
90 – The number of metres made by Israel Folau, more than any other player.
122 – The number of tackles made by Australia compared to 83 by Fiji.
Australia: I Folau; A Ashley-Cooper, T Kuridrani, M Giteau (K Beale 72), R Horne; B Foley (M Toomua 78), W Genia (N Phipps 67); S Sio (J Slipper 56-67), S Moore (capt, T Polota-Nau 67), S Kepu (G Holmes 56), K Douglas (W Skelton 71), R Simmons, S Fardy, M Hooper, D Pocock.
Tries (3): Pocock 2, Kepu. Cons: Foley 2. Pens: Foley 3.
Yellow card: Kuridrani (73)
Fiji: M Talebula; W Nayacalevu (A Tikoirotuma 5), V Goneva, G Lovobalavu, N Nadolo; B Volavola, N Matawalu (N Kenatale 50); C Ma’afu, T Tupati, M Saulo, T Cavubati, L Nakarawa, P Yato (P Ravai 35-40), A Qera (capt), N Talei (M Ravulo 67).
Try: Volavola. Con: Nadolo. Pens: Nadolo 2.
Yellow card: Ma’afu (30)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Man of the Match: David Pocock
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