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Learning from the best

Fred Wesley
Monday, November 27, 2017

IT didn't matter how you looked at it on Saturday night, the Australian Kangaroos were simply too structured, fast, and very experienced against our Fiji Bati.

The 54-6 scoreline was a testament to the power and authority of the Kangaroos.

They played wonderful free-flowing rugby league, producing a class effort against a Bati side that tried desperately not to became mere spectators for most of the game.

Exciting winger Valentine Holmes scored six tries as Australia cruised through to the World Cup final against England.

Holmes backed up his five-try effort the previous week on the Kangaroos' left edge, exposing a defensive gap on our right edge.

With all things said and done though, the platform for the Kangaroos' strong finishing came off the back of structured runs by their linebreakers, forcing our key man Jarryd Hayne to commit in defence.

They tired him out and nullified his effectiveness at five eight in the opening minutes of the game. A late hit inched out an emotional response from Hayne which would have unsettled him further.

The Kangaroos pack then slowly gained ascendency, keeping the pressure on a Bati side that held its own in the opening exchanges though.

Grinding runs in the leading tackle counts kept the Bati on the backfoot and gave the Kangaroos momentum.

Quick play-the-balls kept our defence on the fringes of the ruck under pressure, and quick passes wrong footed our defence, opening up gaps out wide.

The Kangaroos made it look so simple, playing with authority.

They nullified our key areas, shut down the effectiveness of our exciting secondrowers Viliame Kikau and Brayden Wiliame, and cut off our twin centres Akuila Uate on the left edge and Taane Milne on the right edge, effectively keeping our fast men Marcelo Montoya on the left edge and Vunivalu on the right edge cut off.

While the scoreline was massive, national coach Mick Potter would have picked on a number of positives that should stand us in good stead for the future.

The fact that we scored against the Kangaroos is testament to our ability to do so.

The resilience of our youngsters in the pack should put most teams on notice looking to the future.

They tackled hard, ran hard when they had possession, and stayed in the game until the end.

The exciting prospect is the fact that our pack was arguably one of the youngest on show. The backline also brimmed with exciting youngsters who have now had a taste of big time rugby league against the best in the business.

Things can surely only get better in the future for the Fiji Bati.

But what a tournament, what a team, and thank you for the memories.

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