BRISBANE, Australia, Nov 24 – Australia cruised into the Rugby League World Cup final when they thrashed Fiji by 48 points in their semi-final in Brisbane on Friday.
Kangaroos winger Valentine Holmes scored six tries as the home side annihilated the hapless Fijians 54-6.
They will now play either England or Tonga in next Saturday’s final and will go into the decider as firm favourites to claim their 11th title after their 10 try to one demolition.
Australian captain Cameron Smith said the Kangaroos were building well as the tournament progressed.
“In the first three matches we had different line-ups, different players in key positions, so it was always going to be clunky for us,” Smith said.
“But we’ve found a bit of continuity over the past two weeks and it seems to be working for us.”
Fiji, who stunned New Zealand 4-2 in last weekend’s quarter-finals, were no match for the Kangaroos, who scored four tries in the first half and six in the second in an emphatic display.
Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama conceded later the Bati were outclassed, but said he wasn’t disappointed.
“It was a great opportunity for Fiji to play on the world stage and it’s a testament to us that we finished fourth at the World Cup, so it’s a great achievement for us,” he said.
Holmes crossed for five tries in the Kangaroos’ 46-0 quarter-final win over Samoa last weekend and added two more in the first half against Fiji.
He dotted down four more times in the second period, breaking Wendell Sailor’s World Cup try scoring record of 10 in the process.
Fiji had opened the scoring with a third minute penalty to Apisai Koroisau but that was as good as it got for the Bati, who were soon under enormous pressure.
Australia were too big, too fast and too strong for their opponents and dominated both possession and territory.
They hit the front in the 14th minute when fullback Billy Slater crossed, before Holmes scored his first just four minutes later.
Holmes grabbed his second, and fellow winger Dean Gagai put the game out of Fiji’s reach when he scored eight minutes before the break.
Fiji came out after halftime full of intent and looked dangerous as they attacked down the right side.
But they were rocked on their heels when Holmes took an intercept and raced 60 metres to score under the posts.
Slater and Gagai both scored their second, but the night belonged to Holmes who touched down three more times to complete the rout.
Tonga and England play at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday.