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Pocock hits form, but Wallabies unable to claim bonus point against Fiji

The skipper scored two tries in the first 40 minutes to set Australia on the way to an opening win.

Australia 28

Fiji 13

TWO DAVID POCOCK tries saw Australia to a hard-fought 28-13 victory over Fiji in their World Cup opener on Wednesday, but there was crucially no bonus point for the Wallabies in the crunch group.

Victory at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium left two-time champions Australia third in Pool A behind England and Wales. Their rivals have both bagged bonus points for scoring four tries or more on the opening weekend.

Pocock was driven over twice from the Wallabies’ effective rolling maul in the first-half after they spurned kicks at goal in favour of attacking line-outs.

Prop Sekope Kepu crossed for a third try early in the second half, with fly-half Bernard Foley kicking 13 points, but any fears of a Fiji collapse were unfounded.

Britain Rugby WCup Australia Fiji Tempers flare after Fiji's pack win a scrum penalty. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Taking to the field just five days after a 35-11 defeat by England in the tournament opener, the Pacific islanders scored a try through Australian-born fly-half Ben Volavola, with giant wing Nemani Nadolo kicking the conversion and two penalties.

Australia pinned Fiji back in their half for the opening 10 minutes, but a few forced final passes saw the Wallabies only bag a Foley penalty for their dominance after the islanders strayed offside.

The next 10 minutes saw a reversal of fortunes. An attempted Wallaby push-on in the scrum backfired as the Fijians locked in, held the push and countered with one of their own.

A kick to the corner from the resulting penalty saw Fiji launch a line-out drive, Scott Fardy straying offside and Nadolo eventually kicking the penalty in front of the posts to draw the teams level.

Live-wire scrum-half Nikola Matawalu was at the centre of all Fiji did, but his ruck infringement and then a Nadolo high tackle on Israel Folau saw Pocock driven over after the Wallabies again ignored a kickable chance in favour of an attacking line-out.

Fiji suffered a hammer-blow when Campese Ma’afu was yellow carded on the half-hour after preventing quick ball for the Australians.

Britain Rugby WCup Australia Fiji Source: Matt Dunham

Foley again kicked for the corner and Pocock bagged his second try after a perfectly executed rolling maul trundled over the whitewash.

Wallaby No 10 Foley kicked his second penalty just before half-time, with both teams looking like they needed a breather given the frenetic pace of the opening 40 minutes.

Australia started the second period in ideal fashion, Folau punching holes down the left before the ball was worked to Bordeaux-bound Kepu in midfield, the tighthead prop barging over from close range for a try Foley converted.

Nadolo responded with his second penalty and Fiji then decided to run everything, with mixed results in the face of their own inaccuracy and a doughty Wallaby defence.

But Fiji finally broke the Australia line when Volavola, the Sydney-born former Australian Under-20 player who has signed for the Crusaders next season, dummied past Rob Simmons and rolled out of Foley’s attempted tackle for a try converted by Nadolo.

Foley kicked his third penalty in the 70th minute, and then Fiji-born Wallaby centre Tevita Kuridrani was yellow carded with seven minutes to play after infringing in a tackle on his cousin Nadolo.

Australia were then content to batten down the hatches and coach Michael Cheika will now try to rally his team in a bid to rack up a huge score against Pool A minnows Uruguay in Birmingham on Sunday.

Australia captain Steven Moore said: “I thought Fiji were terrific; they’re a much-improved side.

“We’re happy with our boys efforts, but there’s plenty to work on for the next Test. (Coach Michael) Cheika hasn’t spoken to us about the bonus point – Test footy is about winning.”

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AFP

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