Josh Addo-Carr scored two tries to help Australia kick off the defence of their Rugby League World Cup title with a convincing 42-8 victory over Fiji on Sunday morning.
The Kangaroos, who have won seven of the last eight Rugby League World Cups, including the last edition in 2017, outscored their rivals by seven tries to two at Headingley in Leeds.
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Fiji made a strong start to the game, Semi Valemei latching on to a grubber for a shock opening score.
The Kangaroos, in their first international since a loss to Tonga in November 2019, hit back through Jeremiah Nanai, who stepped through the defence to go in under the posts.
Addo-Carr then showed the Fijian defence a clean pair of heels as he streaked away for a swerving 95-metre try.
Angus Crichton bundled over and Australia were suddenly 18-4 up.
The defending champions, particularly strong at the crucial play-the-ball phase, proved adept at running through their sets, draining the Fijian defence.
Another powerplay up the middle by man-of-the-match Cameron Munster saw him exchange passes with Addo-Carr down his left wing before fending off the final defender and offloading to Latrell Mitchell for Australia’s fourth try.
Harry Grant then darted over from dummy half, with the South Sea Islanders firmly on the back foot.
Skipper James Tedesco, who played for Italy in the last two World Cups, got his name on the scoresheet, jinking through before Addo-Carr latched on to a dink to touch down for his second try. Valentine Holmes converted all seven tries.
Fiji didn’t roll over, however, Sunia Turuva crossing for his team’s second try with five minutes to play.
“Yeah I am (happy),” Australian coach Man Meninga said after the match.
“We got through it pretty well. Really happy with our defence. There are a few things to fix up with the ball but all in all, a very good first hitout. The cohesion with the football wasn’t where it needs to be. We talked about it. It was going to be fairly clunky from our point of view playing together in our first game of the tournament.”
Munster continued: “We knew Fiji were going to come out really hard tonight. The first 15 or 20 minutes we needed to ride the wave. They are very passionate. They started really well and we needed to combat that. We were lucky enough to win tonight. We should have scored a lot more points. Happy with the first performance against Fiji.”
– with AFP