9 mins: Australia have kick and it’s a good one in the corner. The chase is good too so Fiji scramble to escape. But they do so with composure. Australia are ramping up the tempo. Trbojevic involved in a few heavy charges. Penalty Australia who kick it into touch 10m into Fijian territory. They seem to be waking up.
7 mins: A strong carry from Wakeham from the restart. Fiji take it to the edge of their own territory before they kick. The chase is a good one and the mop up the Aussie counter before it gets going. In fact, Fiji are tackling really well, driving the men in green back in the collision.
TRY! Australia 0-4 Fiji (Valemi, 4)
Sensational! What a start. That is exactly what Fiji needed if they had any hope of winning this one. Fiji drive the ball up and get within striking distance. The shape to go down the open side but it goes left to the blindside instead. Tedesco doesn’t read it and the stabbed kick behind the line by Moceidreke is perfectly mopped up by a diving Valemei who dots down. The conversion is missed. Still, the Aussies look shellshocked.
2 mins: A decent start for Fiji who get their hands on the ball first. They take it to the half way line and then kick. Australia bring it back to the middle of the field but the phase ends with a Fijian penalty. Impressive tackling as well as from the men in white. They hoof the penalty 10m in to Aussie territory and get things going once again.
Right then. Here. We. GO!
Oh wow! I don’t know what this is called (please someone let me know) but rather than a war dance, the Fijians are standing in a circle, shoulder to shoulder, their eyes are closed, and they’re singing. It’s so moving. Beautiful. It sounds like a hymn but unmistakably from the South Pacific. “Hallelujah” they sing. If they play as well as they hold a note they’re steamroll the Kangaroos.
Not long to go now. Fiji not given much hope by the Beeb pundits. Their head coach Joe Rabele has been hospitalised with illness and there have been some later injury blows. Could be a long, cold night for the Fijians.
The teams are coming out the tunnel. The Anthems are underway. Not long to go now.
Reckon he can do it tonight? Either way, that record will fall over the next five weeks. No doubt about that.
1, 078 days. That’s how long it’s been since the Kangaroos last played a competitive match. That’s partly why they’ve got 13 debutants today. It’s an astounding spell without any action. Could the be rusty?
There are Aussies all over the place in the World Cup. Victor Radley, born in Sydney, was awarded the player of the match award earlier today. France are steered by an Aussie, a man responsible for doing likewise at the Sydney is Roosters.
Nick Tedeschi chatted with Trent Robinson this week. Have a gander:
Did you catch the opening ceremony? It was a shambles. The PA system at St James’ Park had packed up. The folks dignitaries responsible for bringing the sizeable trophies onto the pitch were left looking a bit awkward and the Kaiser Chiefs were reduced to just one song.
But these things happen sometimes and it really isn’t the end of the world. Still, the tournament organisers have issued an apology. Fair play to ‘em.
Fiji hoping to cause an upset
It’s not going to happen. I mean, it really isn’t. Fiji were swatted aside 50-0 by England in a warm-up earlier this month. But hey, stranger things have happened. I’m sure of it.
Fiji: Sunia Turuva, Mitieli Vulikijapani, Kevin Naiqama, Semi Valemei, Maika Sivo, Siti Moceidreke, Brandon Wakeham, King Vuniyayawa, Apisai Koroisau, Tui Kamikamica, Viliame Kikau, Siua Wong, Lamar Manuel-Liolevave.
Interchanges: Penioni Tagituimua, Jowasa Drodrolagi, Ben Nakubuwai, Taniela Sadrugu, Netane Masima.
Australia name team for title defence
Captain James Tedesco has said that this World Cup will be his team’s “toughest test” yet. They’re expected to run out comfortable winners against Fiji and have named a formidable outfit to get things underway:
Australia: James Tedesco, Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell, Valentine Holmes, Murray Taulagi, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Ben Hunt, Jake Trobojevic, Angus Crichton, Jeremiah Nanai, Cameron Murray.
Interchanges: Harry Grant, Reuben Cotter, Patrick Carrigan, Jack Wighton, Matt Burton.
Did you catch England’s demolition of Samoa earlier? Worth revisiting if you did. The hosts were imperious. Just so, so good.
Here’s Aaron Bower’s report from Newcastle:
Who knew the biggest bugbear would be found on the players’ back? Don’t believe me, go ask the Kangaroos legend Steve Renouf, who wore the No 3 jersey 30 years ago when Australia beat Great Britain in the final in Brisbane, said he was “shattered” (yes, really) that the players would wear squad numbers, rather than the numbers that directly correlated to the match-day starting positions.
“Imagine starting in the team and getting 24. People would always think you were a reserve,” he told AAP this week.
Seems a bit overblown to me. Tell me, what am I missing here?
It’s not just Renouf. Even Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga is upset. Wonder if he’ll actually care once the opening whistle sounds.
It’s been billed as the most competitive Rugby World Cup in living memory. England are resurgent. New Zealand are a force on the rise. Tonga have shown they can mix it with the big boys and Samoa, despite the events of a few hours ago, have enough stars to cause an upset along the way.
The Kangaroos, the defending champions, will be eager to squash all that talk and underline their status as the most successful rugby league team in the world.
They’re without some players who might have been with them but they’re still the side to beat.
Fiji won’t be a pushover, physically at least, and should provide a stern test of Mal Meninga’s charges.
My name is Daniel and it’d be great if you dropped me an email or shot me a tweet.
Kick off is at 7:30pm local time.