ROCHDALE, England - THE Vodafone Fiji Bati showed plenty of passion when kicking off their Rugby League World Cup campaign with a 32-14 win over Ireland, but coach Rick Stone wants more polish when face the Kangaroos.
Newcastle Knights winger Akuila Uate scored three of Fiji's six tries and had another disallowed in Rochdale on Monday night, two years after journeying to England as part of Australia's Four Nations squad.
Kevin Naiqama and brothers Tariq and Korbin Sims also grabbed four-pointers for Fiji in the rout of Ireland, who scored two tries in the last three minutes when the result was already beyond doubt.
The Bati, surprise semi-finalists at the 2008 World Cup, are on course for the quarter-finals given the top three from Group A — which also includes the Kangaroos and England — advance.
Fiji next face Tim Sheens' Australian team on Saturday night, pitting their skipper Petero Civoniceva against his former Kangaroos teammates.
Stone, assistant coach of NRL club Newcastle, wants a more clinical performance against the tournament favourites in St Helens.
"The important thing tonight was to get a win," Stone said.
"It was probably pretty ugly at times but the intent was great.
"At times we defended a little bit spasmodically and with too much emotion.
"There was plenty of emotion in the game from our boys and that's something we've got to control in the future if we're going to be competitive against the better sides."
Sheens was among the sellout crowd of 8800 at Spotland Stadium as Civoniceva spearheaded some bone-rattling defence for Fiji, starting his rugby league swansong with a team-high 27 tackles.
"We've got to be a bit smarter with it but overall I'm very pleased with the efforts from the boys," Civoniceva said.
The tournament is the final chapter of the 37-year-old prop's storied league career that featured 45 Tests for Australia, 33 State of Origins for Queensland and 309 NRL games for Brisbane and Penrith.
Uate opened and closed Fiji's scoring.
He dragged two Irishmen over the line with him in the ninth minute, took another setup pass from fullback Kevin Naiqama for his second in the 64th, and bulldozed through four Irishmen for his third in the 73rd.
Ireland could be without fullback Scott Grix for their clash with England after he was helped off the park on Monday.
"He'll go for a scan tomorrow," Ireland coach Mark Aston said.
"It's a short turnaround but we'll patch them up and go again. We're in the hardest group but we'll look forward to it."