A clinical Australia A side bounced back to shut out the Vodafone Flying Fijians and secure a 32-18 win during the Pacific Nations Cup at Churchill Park in Lautoka today.
Australia made Fiji pay for an error ridden game to outscore the home side four tries to three in a dominating performance.
Fiji racked up first points in the 8th minute through flyhalf Teti Tela who kicked a penalty from 30 metres out in front of the sticks, when Australia A was penalized for infringing on the offside line.
It was Australia A that scored the first try of the match when a miscount in midfield by the hosts saw flyhalf Ben Donaldson slip through.
Quick offloads and a race to the corner paid off with lock forward Hugh Sinclair diving over for a try and Donaldson gaining the full compliment with a conversion.
The Aussies extended their lead to 10 with a penalty from Captain Ryan Lonergan as the too eager defence got ahead of themselves.
Fiji began to string phase ball together getting over the advantage line.
A quick ball from the back of the ruck saw former All Black and outside centre Setareki Tamanivalu brush off the defence to score his first try for Fiji with Tela missing the conversion.
Australia gained momentum at the restart and pushed the Fijian defence back into their own 22 metre line.
Close ball by the forwards exposed an overlap allowing winger Dylan Pietsch to slide over with Donaldson missing his second conversion with 29 minutes gone.
Tit for tat battle commenced after that as the home side looked to reply in kind.
Tamanivalu breached the line of defence carried on from a set piece scrum and offloaded to his skipper and centre pair Levani Botia to score with the conversion missed in the 36th minute.
Fiji reserve loosie Kitione Kamikamica was injected early into the game after Mesulame Kunavula was injured during a heavy contact.
The Australian defence held firm as Fiji attempted to finish the half on a high.
Tela had the chance to put Fiji in the lead via a penalty just before the break but his attempt drafted away from the sticks.
Australia A led 15-13 at halftime.
Ben Volavola was the noted inclusion at the onset of the the second half, replacing Tela in a gamble to inject life into Fiji’s game.
Australia played as they did in the first half, with slow ball and composure and kept the Fijians pressed in their own half.
Winger Filipo Daugunu crashed over for their third try of the match seven minutes in with Lonergan adding the conversion.
The Fijians kept up the momentum to climb into the opposition half and with hard running and keeping the ball closed the gap to four points as veteran lock Apisalome Ratuniyarawa smashed his way over the tryline for an unconverted try.
A miscommunication by the Fijian backline gifted the Australians their fourth try as a delayed clearing kick by Volavola was charged down by substitute loose man Jeremy Williams, who recollected to score with Lonergan adding the two points with only 11 minutes remaining on the clock.
Lonergan kept the pressure and with it more points as he added a penalty from right in front to widen the gap to 12 points and the clock now into the red.
Australia controlled the game giving the Flying Fijians no chance at a reprieve to walk away the victors and win their first game of the championship.
Samoa now leads the PNC with two straight wins while Fiji and Australia A have a win each and Tonga remains winless.
Fiji will meet Samoa in the last round next week while Australia A will face Tonga.
Flying Fijians- Haereiti Hetet, Samuel Matavesi, Manasa Saulo, Isoa Nasilasila, Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, Mesulame Kunavula, Rusiate Nasove, Albert Tuisue, Frank Lomani, Teti Tela, Vinaya Habosi, Levani Botia, Setareki Tamanivalu, Josua Tuisova, Manasa Mataele.
Reserves- Mesulame Dolokoto, Eroni Mawi, Mesake Doge, Temo Mayanavanua, Kitione Kamikamica, Peni Matawalu, Vilimoni Botitu.
Australia A- Matt Gibson, Matthew Faessler, Tom Robertson, Hugh Sinclair, Ryan Smith, Seru Uru, Fraser McReight, Langi Gleeson, Ryan Lonergan, Ben Donaldson, Filipo Daugunu, Lalakai Foketi, Hudson Creighton, Dylan Pietsch, Jock Campbell.
Reserves- Feleti Kaitu’u, Harry Hoopert, Archer Holz, Jeremy Williams, Jackson Pugh, James Tuttle, Tane Edmed, Mark Waqanitawase.
By Noa Biudole