Israel Folau and Henry Speight yesterday scored try doubles as Australia launched their international season with a 37-14 win over Fiji in Melbourne.
Fullback Folau was outstanding in attack, running more than 150m for the match, while Fijian-born winger Speight finished well as the Wallabies outscored Fiji five tries to two after leading 18-0 at halftime.
Flyhalf Bernard Foley kicked three conversions and two penalty goals to finish with 12 points.
The Wallabies began well and dominated the first half, but Fiji had more success in the second half with tries to Vereniki Goneva and Timoci Nagusa.
It was a tonic for the Wallabies to win their season opener by 23 points, with Test debutant Karmichael Hunt catching the eye at inside center, along with towering lock Adam Coleman.
Hunt, whose introduction to rugby in 2015 was blighted by a cocaine scandal stemming from his days in the Australian Football League (AFL), made his Wallabies debut aged 30.
Hunt and Folau are the only players in Australian history who have been dual rugby internationals and played in the AFL at senior level.
Flanker Michael Hooper, who was named captain ahead of 117-Test hooker Stephen Moore, said it was a good start to the year for the Wallabies.
“I am really happy with the guys, the intent was really strong and the work rate was there,” Hooper said. “We probably left two or three tries out there, but the Fijians are pretty hard to deal with at times.”
It was Australia’s 14th straight win over Fiji since a 3-3 draw in Melbourne in 1961. Their last defeat to the Pacific Islanders was way back in 1954.
The Wallabies hit the ground running and were 15-0 up in the first 11 minutes.
Foley aimed a high kick to the right wing for Folau, who outjumped fullback Kini Murimurivalu to score the opening try in the fourth minute.
The Wallabies were in again when forwards Coleman and Scott Higginbotham exchanged passes and gave the opening for Speight to score out wide.
The Wallabies went a man down when Folau was yellow-carded for a high tackle, but they added three more points through a Foley penalty goal while Folau was off the field.
Foley took off from his own quarter with an intercept off a Ben Volavola pass, but was he run down, before he added a further penalty for an 18-0 lead at halftime.
Fiji-born center Tevita Kuridrani had a try disallowed for the Wallabies when he put his foot into touch early in the second half.
However, Foley put Folau through a gap on halfway and he burned off the Fijian cover defense to score his second try and stretch the Wallabies’ lead to 25-0.
Goneva scored Fiji’s first try after he beat off Speight’s diving tackle, before Moore came off the bench to score a pushover try.
Winger Nagusa dived over for Fiji’s second try with three minutes left, but Australia kept the ball alive after the full-time siren and were rewarded with Speight’s second try after great passing from replacement Quade Cooper and Hunt.
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