Rusty Wallabies down Fiji 49-3 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rusty Wallabies down Fiji 49-3

By Darren Walton 06/06/2010 07:02:49 AM Comments (0)

Australia blew off the cobwebs to thump Fiji 49-3 in Saturday night's season opening rugby Test at Canberra Stadium.

With no Will Genia in a reshuffled backline and a pack featuring three debutant frontrowers, the Wallabies struggled to gel but still had too much class for the Pacific Islanders, running in seven unanswered tries.

Coach Robbie Deans will be hoping the victory hasn't come at a heavy price, with utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper limping from the field midway through the second half with an ankle injury and prop Ben Alexander departing soon after on a medicab.

Alexander may be out for some time with a knee ligament injury.

Ashley-Cooper, along with fellow winger Digby Ioane and five-eighth Quade Cooper - in his first Test start in the chief playmaker's role - were three of the better performers in an otherwise rusty display from the Wallabies.

Lock Nathan Sharpe made a successful comeback to the Test arena following shoulder surgery with a man-of-the-match performance.

Fiji didn't exactly excite with Rupeni Caucaunibuca, the former superstar winger playing at outside centre, unlikely to have sparked a bidding war for his services after saying mid-week he was auditioning for a Super 15 contract in Australia.

Playing at more than 20kgs above his fighting weight of his glory days of the mid-2000s, Caucau - as one scribe put it looked more like `cow cow' - and had little impact on the match.

Lucky that, for the Australians were having enough trouble trying to find their A game in the first of 15 Tests in 2010.

"We were a bit scratchy early on. We couldn't hold onto the ball," Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom said.

"But the pleasing thing is they didn't get over our line. That's a positive."

After repelling a couple of early raids, Australia opened the scoring with a try on his starting debut to fullback Kurtley Beale in the 10th minute.

Beale collected a lovely double cutout pass from Matt Giteau and strolled over, with Giteau's conversion giving a 7-0 lead.

The Wallabies were expecting a physical encounter and Giteau was on the wrong end of two dubious big hits in the space of five minutes.

Fiji fullback Taniela Rawaqa was cautioned for the second no-arms tackle, but was lucky to avoid a stint in the sin bin.

Instead Rawaqa was able to boot a long-range penalty goal shortly after to narrow Australia's lead to just four points after 28 minutes.

They extended the advantage in the dying stages of the half when No.8 Richard Brown crossed after a fabulous run from rookie centre Rob Horne.

The 21-year-old steamed onto a nice short ball from five-eighth Quade Cooper, produced a huge step before being brought down just metres from the Fiji line.

Cooper converted to give the Wallabies some breathing space at the break.

Australia were quick to snuff out any hopes of a Fiji second-half fightback, with Cooper crossing in the 43rd minute and then the straight-running Ioane following suit eight minutes later.

The scoreline blew out late when Cooper put replacement winger Drew Mitchell over in the 63rd minute and then Ioane and Beale completed try-scoring doubles, with Giteau slotting the conversion on each occasion.

Along with Beale and Horne, it was a memorable night also for prop Solesi Mafu and hookers Huia Edmonds and Saia Faingaa, who all earned their first Test caps.

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