Fiji 38-10 Italy: Bati ease into World Cup last eight
By Ben Proe
Last Updated: 10/11/17 3:49pm
Melbourne Premiership winner Suliasi Vunivalu helped himself to a sensational eight-minute hat-trick in the Australian capital, as Fiji booked their quarter-final spot with a second-half dismissal of Italy to win 38-10.
Needing to win by 46 points to keep their World Cup dream alive, the Azzurri led after the first quarter despite losing Jayden Walker to a yellow card for a professional foul - Canberra stalwart Terry Campese marking his farewell appearance on familiar soil with a superb pass for ex-Hull KR team-mate Josh Mantellato to finish brilliantly in the corner.
That came just two minutes after Vunivalu had been denied a sixth World Cup four-pointer - and it was almost half an hour before the Bati were on the board… skipper Kevin Naiqama making the most of a terrible error from Italian full-back Mason Cerruto, following up Jarryd Hayne's grubber to touch down.
In a scrappy game featuring 22 penalties, Joey Tramontana was also given 10 minutes by referee Robert Hicks after throwing a punch - but Hayne also saw yellow for running in, and the two players had to be restrained in the tunnel after their dismissal.
Leading 6-4, Mick Potter's men opened up a significant eight-point lead just sixty seconds before the interval; Henry Raiwalui, of Canberra's Mounties feeder club, with a nice dummy and score.
Although Nathan Milone produced a moment of Italian magic within two minutes of the second period, following up his own kick to go over, a trio of Fijian tries inside nine minutes put the favourites on course for the last eight. Two arrived courtesy of Vunivalu, who went on to complete his fourth hat-trick this season with 13 to go. That treble was bookended by second-half scores from Catalans' Brayden Wiliame and Marcelo Montoya, ensuring Fiji top Pool D - and set up a clash with the losers of Saturday's clash between New Zealand and Tonga.