The Fijians showed up tonight and played a much more competitive and aggressive brand of rugby than was expected. While the Fijians failed to turn any of their opportunities into points, nervous moments for Wallabies supporters were plentiful as our scrambling defense denied them the points they deserved. The defensive highlight was a sustained period of Fijians pressuring against our try line for about 5 minutes around the 70 minute mark being the most testing period.
While the Australian’s enjoyed air superiority, of major concern will be our scrum where the Fijians achieved parity. One can’t help but worry how this will play out when we take on the Poms. Even worse was an injury to Ben Alexander who suffered a sickening leg injury and had to leave the field on a stretcher. With Benn Robinson already out it could it be time to send an SOS to Al Baxter? According to Robbie Deans in the after match presser Ben Daley is close to fitness and is likely to return next week.
Matt Giteau was the unlucky recipient of the Clyde Rathbone treatment, being repeatedly smashed by massive Fijian backs who would seriously challenge Greg Growden in a pie eating contest. Rupeni Caucaunibuca, Rawaqa and an unsighted aggressor in back play all put massive hits on Giteau, while Adam Ashley-Cooper was the victim of a strangling attempt and Salesi Ma’afu copped a sneaky right hook in front of the ref. Two Fijians received yellow cards for their efforts, and plenty more could have joined them.
Seven tries were scored in the Wallabies 49 points, with Beale (twice), Quade, Brown, Digby (twice) and Mitchell crossing. Several more opportunities went begging in close proximity to the line with Rocky (twice) and Luke Burgess both suffering white line fever.
Quade, Sharpe, Mitchell, Horne, Quade, Giteau and Mumm all had strong games to my eye, we’ll post our full match review and player ratings tomorrow.
Full Time: Wallabies 49 defeated Fiji 3