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After a slow start the Wallabies have produced a strong second half to defeat Fiji 39-21 to kick start their Rugby World Cup campaign.
The Wallabies get their Rugby World Cup 2019 campaign underway with a challenging opening match against Fiji. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of what promises to be a thrilling match from 2:45pm (AEST).
Considering that no team in the past eight tournaments has won the Webb Ellis Cup after losing a game in the group stage, the importance of this match is clear to see.
Australia need to find the consistency that has gone missing in recent years. Since their final appearance in 2015, their longest winning streak is four in a row back in 2017. That’s not going to get them close to another shot at the trophy in Japan.
Michael Cheika’s selections certainly raise plenty of questions. Is Reece Hodge really one of the best two wingers in Australia? Can the James O’Connor-Samu Kerevi centre partnership unlock the best defences at the tournament? Will Pooper terrorise opponents like all Wallabies fans hope that they can? Can Kurtley Beale get people saying “Israel who?”
For Fiji, there are some big questions too with perhaps the most simple but important being whether their forwards can deliver the quick, clean ball that their devastating backs can thrive on.
The individual talent of many of the islanders is well known and respected – the Wallabies themselves have three players of Fijian heritage in their starting XV – Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete and Isi Naisarani.
But this individual talent with ball in hand isn’t enough and the underdogs really need to compete up front and create a solid platform before trying to push the ball wide to their dangermen.
The Wallabies really should win this easily. The goal should be to genuinely control the game from start to finish. They can’t just outscore Fiji and scrape through with a win – they have to dominate in all aspects and manage the game well, as that will become essential in the tougher games down the line.
Wallabies by 12.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of Australia’s opening match of the Rugby World Cup against Fiji from 2:45pm (AEST).
Kick-off: 2:45pm (AEST)
Venue: Sapporo Dome
TV: Live, Fox Sports & Ten
Betting: Australia $1.12, Fiji $6
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 James O’Connor, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 David Pocock, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio
16 Jordan Uelese , 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Dan Haylett-Petty
15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Levani Botia, 11 Semi Radradra, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Peceli Yato, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu (c) , 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Peni Ravai, 2 Samuel Matavesi, 1 Campese Ma’afu
16 Tuvere Vugakoto, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Mosese Voka, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Alivereti Veitokani, 23 Vereniki Goneva
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce, Andrew Brace
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Head-to-head: Australia 18, Fiji 2, 1 draw