Australia slice up Fiji, England outclass Ireland
Australia was the first to qualify for the Rugby League World Cup quarterfinals after an impressive 34-2 win over Fiji in rain and blustery winds in St. Helens on Saturday.
But the Kangaroos’ second win from two matches was ruined by the sight of second-rower Luke Lewis cradling his left arm and leaving the field with assistance after racing for a grubber kick and sliding into advertising boards behind the Fiji tryline.
That incident in the 69th minute was only moments after Lewis scored their sixth and last try, when halves Johnathan Thurston and Daly Cherry-Evans combined to set fullback Greg Inglis free up the middle.
Meanwhile, England put its campaign back on track by outclassing Ireland 42-0 in Huddersfield.
Fiji failed to score against Australia in their last World Cup match - the 2008 semifinals - but scored first this time from an Alipate Noilea penalty.
But when the Kangaroos warmed up in the bitter cold, there was no stopping them. A well-timed Evans short pass set up Josh Papali’i for the first try in the 15th, Inglis beat back four defenders to flick the ball with his left hand to Darius Boyd for the second, and center Michael Jennings ran in the third for a 16-2 halftime lead.
Five minutes after the break, Australia turned a Fiji dropped ball short of the tryline into a Josh Morris try with Evans’ help, then Evans was the scorer from a James Tamou surge.
Fiji then came closest when Apisai Koroisau was held up by Inglis and Jennings. Australia was penalized for ball stealing, but the defense was still too good.
Before a sellout crowd of 24,300, England overwhelmed Ireland with eight tries. They had six in the first half, four of them in a seven-minute span when Ireland only touched the ball making kickoffs. It was 30-0 after 24 minutes.
Winger Ryan Hall was set up by center Leroy Cudjoe for an easy hat trick to give him 17 tries in 17 tests, and right wing Tom Briscoe scored a pair in two minutes.
England meets Fiji next weekend and both are expected to follow Australia into the quarterfinals from Group A. Ireland, also beaten by Fiji, will need an unlikely win over Australia to stay alive.