The Wallabies fought back to avoid a catastrophic result at the World Cup, needing two tries from hooker Tolu Latu to help see off Fiji 39-21 in Sapporo.
railing 21-12 with half-an-hour remaining on Saturday, the Australian pack took command in a period when Fiji was reduced to 14 men through a yellow card – to ensure they dodged what would have been one of the worst results in their tournament history.
Despite ultimately scoring six tries to two, there is plenty of work for Michael Cheika’s men to do before playing Wales next week after an error-riddled first-half performance in which they had been bullied by the Fijians.
15. Kurtley Beale:
Coped well with the assortment of high bombs that rained down on him, but was largely anonymous on attack – making just one metre from his two carries.
14. Reece Hodge:
Got steam-rolled a couple of times by Fijian runners and was lucky to escape for an illegal shoulder charge, but bounced by to score a crucial try late in the first half.
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13. James O’Connor:
Struggled with the monstrous Fijian runners, but showed some neat skills when he did have the ball in hand.
12. Samu Kerevi:
Returned the favour to the big Fijians with some powerful runs of his own. However, was a touch selfish and cost his team a certain try when they were a man up in the second half.
11. Marika Koroibete:
May be strong with ball in hand, but his defence remains suspect, especially against equally forceful brutes.
10. Christian Lealiifano:
Had an abundance of white missiles heading his way every time the ball came in his direction. Also missed more tackles than he made.
9 Nic White:
For a scrumhalf, his hands were not the greatest and his decision-making also let him down at times. Not a surprise he was yanked from the field early in the second half.
8 Isi Naisarani:
The pace of the game in the first half appeared to leave him lagging, but he did look good with the ball in hand.
7 Michael Hooper (captain):
Was busy, as usual, with 15 carries and making all but one of his tackles. Satisfactory day at the office.
6 David Pocock:
He showed just how valuable he is to the Wallabies – making nine tackles and winning four turnovers (including a couple of penalties). Was penalised on occasion when pushing the envelope at the breakdown.
High tackle sanction framework called into question after Australia-Fiji gamehttps://t.co/iPRBhRGP2a
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 21, 2019
5 Rory Arnold:
He needed a more structured game to be effective. Eight carries for just 14 metres and just three tackles.
4 Izack Rodda:
Was very busy, but not always effective – his nine carries just yielding 17 metres. Made just four tackles and missed one.
3 Allan Alaalatoa:
Another forward that got very little reward for his work, his six carries going a total of seven metres forward. He also missed just one of his tackles.
2 Tolu Latu:
The most productive of the Wallaby forwards – 10 carries, making all his tackles and being accurate in the set pieces. Add in his two tries – albeit a couple of armchair rides – and he is good value for his Man of the Match award.
1 Scott Sio:
Powerful scrumming and a turnover at the breakdown was the sum total of his contribution. His three carries were mostly ineffective.
The Fijians performed as expected in Sapporo, a mixture of brilliant and underwhelming play in their entertaining loss to Australiahttps://t.co/oJ0KV0wFck
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 21, 2019
16 Jordan Uelese (on for Latu, 63rd minute):
Brought an energy that was required in the final quarter. The perfect substitute for the hard-working starting hooker.
17 James Slipper (on for Sio, 63rd minute):
Brought nothing different, other than solid scrums against a pack that was one man down.
18 Sekope Kepu (on for Alaalatoa, 63rd minute):
One carry and his work in the set pieces. No other impact.
19 Adam Coleman (on for Arnold, 69th minute):
Not enough time to be rated.
20 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (on for Naisarani, 57th minute):
The one forward that came off the bench and had a higher workrate than the player he replaced. Made all his tackles and won a crucial line-out.
21 Will Genia (on for White, 50th minute):
Made his presence felt from the moment he stepped on the field, using his superior kicking skills to relieve pressure on his team.
22 Matt To’omua (on for Lealiifano, 59th minute):
Brought a stability to a misfiring backline, also solid on defence and plugging the gap that was the No.10 channel.
23 Dane Haylett-Petty (on for Beale, 71st minute):
Not enough time to rate.
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