Vunivalu fires as Fiji advance in RLWC

By Steve Zemek, Steve Zemek is a Roar Guru

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    Fijian tryscoring machine Suliasi Vunivalu has fired another warning shot to the rest of the Rugby League World Cup as the Bati aim for a third consecutive semi-finals appearance.

    After being the NRL’s top tryscorer in 2017, the Melbourne premiership-winning winger took his tournament tally to eight with a quickfire hat-trick in the Bati’s 38-10 victory over Italy in Canberra on Friday.

    Vunivalu – also the tournament’s leading tryscorer – crossed three times in eight minutes midway through the second half as Fiji advanced to the quarter-finals.

    Before Vunivalu crossed in the 60th minute, his side held just a six-point advantage after a forgettable opening half.

    However he quickly took the game away from Italy, prompting former NSW coach and commentator Laurie Daley to describe him as one of the best two wingers in the game along with Storm teammate Josh Addo-Carr.

    “We were under the pump and they (Vunivalu’s tries) just pulled us away,” Fiji coach Mick Potter.

    “Suli was happy and all the Fijians were happy around the place. That’s a great feat and I don’t think that (three tries in eight minutes) is going to happen again anytime soon.”

    The Bati head into the quarter-finals unbeaten in their first three matches at the top of Group D and now face the loser of Saturday’s clash between Tonga and New Zealand.

    After advancing to the final four of the last two World Cups, they are placing high expectations on themselves but Potter warned they needed to show a lot of improvement to advance.

    The former Wests Tigers coach was concerned after his side made 14 errors and conceded 11 penalties and warned they needed to find a lot of improvement fast.

    “We need to get better. Tonight wasn’t good enough. To beat Tonga or New Zealand, we need to be better next week,” Potter said.

    In a woeful first-half marred by controversy, three players including Fiji’s star five-eighth Jarryd Hayne were sin-binned.

    Hayne was marched for 10 minutes alongside Italy hooker Joe Tramontana for their part in an all-in melee.

    Tramontana had to be held back by a security official and Italy staff member as he and Hayne went up the GIO Stadium tunnel.

    “I’m not sure it was warranted,” Potter said of Hayne’s sin-binning.

    “Jarryd went and someone else went. I’m not too bothered about it.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • November 11th 2017 @ 8:11am
      Birdy said | November 11th 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

      Mick Potter, the wizard.

      Tonga and NZ are already looking over their shoulders.
      Potter is proving to be a master coach. Egg in the face Wests.
      His positional changes are the difference between Fiji just competing and beciming a real threat. To top it off he called Fiji the real deal from game 1.

    • November 11th 2017 @ 11:49am
      tonyBBB said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

      Great to see a packed out stadium.

      Great to see so many born and bred Italians from Milan, Rome and Naples.

    • November 11th 2017 @ 12:19pm
      Big Willy TBU said | November 11th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

      It was actually an enjoyable and entertaining game – a good standard with some top notch NRL players. Plus the passion boiling over showed both teams had well and truly turned up to play. A far better experience than the boring, one sided ANZAC test I went to at Canberra stadium a few years ago.

    • November 11th 2017 @ 2:23pm
      Pickett said | November 11th 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

      Underestimate Fiji at your own peril.

    • Roar Guru

      November 12th 2017 @ 11:27am
      Nat said | November 12th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

      Without wanting to be a Hayne-hater, did he seem disappointed Suli didn’t pass that ball when he cut through for his last try (I believe). Ended up a blow out but Italy done well for the majority of the game.

    • November 12th 2017 @ 11:47am
      souvalis said | November 12th 2017 @ 11:47am | ! Report

      Couple of Campese quotes impacted on me after the game..1. He believes Hayne hasn’t been going at 100% in the first 3 games,but still carving it up…2. Hayne hadn’t been tackled in the first 2 games (ie hadn’t played the ball)…amazing…and you come up with..he was frowning ? Gee ,whiz….

      • Roar Guru

        November 12th 2017 @ 5:52pm
        Nat said | November 12th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

        Terry is right, Hayne hasn’t been going at 100% – for 2 years. Not Hayne-like at all to be counting his tries against the staunch defensive units of USA, Wales and Italy when in contention for highest ever WC try scorer. Just an observation.

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