The headline news for this game was the Fiji debut of superstar Jarryd Hayne, as the two time World Cup semi-finalists started their latest campaign against USA Hawks.
The Hayne-Plane started in the halves, as the Fijians took on the team coached by Leeds Rhinos treble-winning coach Brian McDermott in Townsville.
The game was littered with NRL and Super League quality, including former Warrington prop Ashton Sims, Kevin Naiqama, and Hull FC bound Burita Faraimo.
The first attacking opportunity went the way of Fiji after a strong first set, with a knock-on presenting them with a scrum in the USA half.
From the scrum the ball was shifted quickly from left to right, with Hayne at the heart of the move, a brave tackle from Faraimo seemed to stop the Fijian winger but a deft ball inside allowed Taane Milne to cross for the first try, which went unconverted.
The next attack from Fiji came soon after as their big, physical pack made easy metre’s before a grubber on the last tackle from Milne saw Naiqama grab their 2nd try, this time Koroisau was on target with the boot, and Fiji had a ten point lead within eight minutes.
Fiji were soon back on the attack as their superior fitness and know-how continued to carve the Hawks apart, and from a short pass Milne barged his way over for his 2nd try, Koroisau was again on target with the kick after 12 minutes.
A kick out on the full from the restart presented Bati with another attacking opportunity and Akuila Uate danced through the USA defence for their fourth try, Koroisau hit the post with the conversion attempt.
A high shot from Eddy Pettybourne on Sims gave Fiji another penalty and more territory and possession.
From the resulting chance, a short pass from Hayne allowed prop Kane Evans to bash his way over for a fifth try in 17 minutes, however he had to be removed after sustaining a wrist injury in the act of scoring, Koroisau added the extras to the try.
A first penalty for the USA provided much needed relief after Sims interfered as Faraimo tried to play the ball.
The Hawks finally got on the board as back-rower Matt Shipway gobbled up a pass from Christian Freed, and stepped inside one defender, while holding off another to crash over, Faraimo was on target with his first kick at goal after 24 minutes.
Another soft penalty for Fiji invited them to attack the American line again, and they went down the left again with a pass from Uate to Montoya, but the winger had a foot in touch as he dotted the ball down.
A desperate last play of the next set by USA presented Fiji with more territory and possession, but the chance was blown as they dropped the ball over the USA line at the end of the set.
A goal line drop out from USA saw Fiji resuming normal service, and Naiqama crossed on the right side as he held off two Hawks defenders to score, Koroisau added the easiest conversion he had so far with ten minutes of the half left.
A rare mistake from Fiji allowed the Hawks to set-up a position with a scrum in the Fiji half, but an unfortunate knock-on saw the chance pass them by.
In a flash Fiji streamed upfield far too easily, and Melbourne Storm star Suliasi Vunivalu picked up a quick PTB on halfway and raced in for their seventh try of the half, but this one went unconverted.
The Hawks thought they had a deserved score after a mix-up in defence by Fiji, but the centre was just in touch as he gathered in the loose ball before racing over beside the posts in the last play of the half.
Half Time: Fiji Bati 36 USA Hawks 6
Fiji returned to the pitch in the knowledge that Kane Evans world cup was over after he sustained a broken wrist in the act of scoring his try in the first half.
Some determined early defending in the second half earned the Hawks some deserved territory and possession as a penalty saw them set-up near halfway, but a kick towards the Fiji line was cleaned up by Vunivalu, although Faraimo scragged him easily.
However a break through the middle by Uate opened up the chance for Hayne to follow through and dash through under the posts, Koroisau added the extras from in front of the posts with seven minutes of the half gone.
Another mistake from the restart saw Fiji having to drop out from under their posts, and a knock-on from a grubber presented them with a repeat set on the Fiji line.
However the chance came to nothing as the Hawks were guilty of a knock-on themselves just in front of the defensive line.
Fiji soon had another chance as Uate again opened up the Hawks defence with a delicious pass to his winger who kicked inside, but Naiqama lost his chance of his hat-trick as he failed to gather the kick in with the line begging.
Another scrum presented the Hawks with more territory and possession, and a Fijian hand on the ball gave them another repeat set, which was backed up with a penalty for an infringement at the PTB, however another knock-on by USA wasted the chance.
A penalty for a hit on Naiqama that could have earned a red card, saw the pressure soon put back on Brian McDermott’s side.
The ninth try for Fiji duly arrived as a deft short pass saw back-rower Viliame Kikau bash his way through to score, a first conversion for Milne brought them within two points of the half century.
An unfortunate mistake from Faraimo saw Milne intercept his offload, the ball to Vunivalu saw the winger crash his way over to bring up the half century for Fiji, Milne was wide of the mark with the conversion.
The 5,103 crowd were being richly entertained, and Fiji kept piling on the points as Kikau made a break, and Henry Raiwalui backed up to finish, Milne added his second conversion from three with 13 minutes remaining.
A high kick threatened the USA line again, but Faraimo was able to claim it at the last second and make significant metre’s to clear the line for them, as Vunivalu had hunted his hat-trick.
To the Hawks credit, they never stopped trying to push Fiji, and they got a deserved second try as former Panthers and Rabbitohs man Junior Vaivai crossed in the corner to remind Fiji that there were still two teams in this game, Faraimo added a majestic touchline conversion with seven minutes left to play.
A scrum on halfway saw Fiji breakaway with Milne getting within inches of the USA line, followed up by a penalty, but Naiqama was trying too hard to get his hat-trick and subsequently dropped the ball in the tackle, while also picking up an injury.
Final Score: Fiji Bati 58 USA Hawks 12