Australia 54 – 6 Fiji
VALENTINE Holmes wrote his name in the record books once again as he notched six tries to send Australia sailing through to another World Cup final.
The winger’s sensational form continued as he added to his haul in Darwin last Friday with another six in this thumping victory, taking his tally to 11 in the space of a week.
Holmes now sits atop the try scoring charts at this competition with 12, while teammate Billy Slater has the most World Cup tries of all time – his brace against the Bati took him to 16.
Australia ran in a huge 10 tries, with Dane Gagai also grabbing two, and it’s now surely hard to look past the top side in the world to lift the cup for an 11th time next week.
It was a scintillating performance from the Green and Golds, while Fiji were a good match for the opening quarter of an hour – they couldn’t find a way into the game from then on.
In a physical start, tempers flared inside the first two minutes when Jarryd Hayne renewed old rivalries and put a strong hit on Slater, instigating a bust up.
But Fiji’s defence was resolute and they were first on the scoreboard – taking their opportunity after a rare penalty from Slater holding down. Koroisau obliged, but it didn’t take long for the Kangaroos to get back into it.
The Bati’s discipline started to let them down, giving away needless penalties and Australia took full advantage.
They almost took the lead when Matt Gillett was clear on the try line with just Kevin Naiqama to get past, but he decided to pass to Gagai – missing the winger and finding touch instead.
Cooper Cronk and Michael Morgan then started to show their magic, and it was the latter who neatly set up Slater for his 15th try in all World Cup competitions.
Another try just four minutes later put Australia in the ascendency. Morgan picked out Holmes with a perfect kick, and the in-form winger dotted down for another score.
On the back of scoring five tries against Samoa last week, Holmes went in for his second just seven minutes later when he found himself on the end of a swift left-side movement. Smith was surprisingly off target for the kick but at 16-2, the Bati were struggling to get back into the game.
And they went further behind when Gagai skipped through some poor Fiji defence. Smith ensured the holders went into the break 22-2 up, meaning Fiji had to come out fighting in the second half.
It got worse for the Fijians as they looked to open the scoring after the restart – Naiqama searched to pass out wide but only found Holmes who happily latched onto the ball and raced 90 metres to touch down for his hat-trick.
The winger can’t stop scoring and was on the end of another dazzling movement down the left-hand side, crossing for one of his easier tries of the tournament.
By now it was 40-2, but the Bati didn’t give up and their top try-scorer Suliasi Vunivalu did well to collect Naiqama’s pass off the floor and use his momentum to take him over the line. Koroisau missed the kick and it was 40-6.
Records were set to be broken though, and Holmes wasn’t done with scoring just yet as he went over for another two.
Will there be any stopping him as Australia look to next week’s final?
Photo: NRL Photos