Australia 39-21 Fiji: Wallabies come back from nine points down in second-half flourish at World Cup
Wallabies come from behind to claim bonus-point Pool D victory
Last Updated: 21/09/19 9:15am
A second-half flourish saw Michael Cheika's Australia turn a 21-12 deficit into a 39-21 bonus-point victory over Fiji in Rugby World Cup Pool D at the Sapporo Dome.
Fiji started superbly, scoring first through Peceli Yato and going in at half-time in front against Australia for the first time since 1961.
An intercept score from centre Waisea Nayacalevu gave Fiji a second-half 21-12 lead, but the Wallabies responded from there with tries from Tolu Latu (two), Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete.
Skipper Michael Hooper and Reece Hodge had scored first-half tries for Australia too, with the Wallabies sure to be relieved to have secured an opening World Cup victory.
Both teams invited early pressure onto themselves but Fiji also shone and, inside 10 minutes, they had built an 8-0 lead.
Australian tacklers were scattered by Josua Tuisova during a rampaging run down the right wing and openside Yato was on hand to finish the attack.
Fiji were looking the better coached until Hooper side-stepped over from close range after a series of raids down the left.
It was only brief respite as Fiji renewed their onslaught, harvesting six more points from Ben Volavola's boot, but Australia were far more ruthless in possession and when they next visited the 22, a try was worked for wing Hodge.
Before that score, the Wallabies wing was extremely fortunate to avoid a red card for a shoulder charge to the head of Yato - which put the Fiji flanker out for the rest of the game, failing a Head Injury Assessment. The match TMO chose not to even review the incident.
The Wallabies needed to settle quickly into the second half but instead, they gifted the Islanders their second try as a botched midfield move presented Nayacalevu with the loose ball.
Shrugging off a tackle, the outside centre ran almost half the pitch to cross under the posts with a swallow dive before being mobbed by the replacements bench, who were warming up nearby.
There was an air of inevitability to Australia's next try as repeated line-out drives ended with Latu crossing and, with Levani Botia sin-binned for killing the ball, they produced a carbon copy with the same player going over once again.
The floodgates were now open as Fiji collapsed, with Kerevi and Koroibete completing a one-sided scoreline that was unkind to the Islanders.