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Australia flex their muscle against Fiji

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Australia recorded a comfortable 49-0 victory over a spirited Fiji on Saturday at the Subiaco Oval in Perth led by a Lote Tuqiri brace on his return to the Wallabies side.

These 80 minutes of Rugby Union, classified as making up a full match of Test rugby, did no favours for the sport concerned, nor for sport itself.

It did not look like Test rugby, the players did not play with the urgency and vigour normally associated with the top flight of one of humanity’s proudest sports, and neither did the commentary nor crowd display the passion traditionally given to an international clash.

The Wallabies, never showing any real cohesion nor skill, cantered to an absolute cake-walk of a victory, over a Fijian side looking like the poor son that professionalism forgot.

Tuqiri, the star of the match, and a Fijian-born Australian, has just come off the back of a three-week speed training programme in the midst of the international season.

The fact that, in the midst of professionalism, the low quality of a so-called top 15 side in the world, Fiji, have to come up against an opposition with that amount of backing behind them, is laughable.

What is also laughable is the poor performance of Australia, who have none of the setbacks that the Fijians can claim.

The Fijians looked like a nation that sees no real domestic competition, and does not play together much at all.

They showed glimpses of competitiveness in the opening exchanges, with the brave play of scrumhalf Moses Rauluni, and skipper and number eight Alifereti Doviverata poking some holes in the inside channel, but they simply do not possess the skill and accuracy at the phase interchange to stay in the game with any decent opposition.

The Australians, meanwhile, were clearly aiming for a larger degree of control in their game.

That endeavour, however, was poorly executed.

Their forward drives off the lineout are weak and lacking intent, and the loping passes of Matt Dunning and Phil Waugh gave the impression of a training game.

Early on, their scrum appeared to be heading for trouble, but after the Fijians were blown up for early hits, they over-compensated with a lack of a hit at all, and the Australians gained the ascendancy.

With complete dominance in all phases of the game, the Wallabies shut Fiji out completely, and, from that position, the fact they did not score at will, speaks volume for the trouble in which Australian rugby finds itself.

The Wallaby backs showed a desire to play the ball wide, with Julian Huxley and the new centre combination of Adam Ashley-Cooper and Scoot Staniforth showing penetration and go-forward early on, running good lines. In fact the centres probably were the only players of Australia who came out with any credibility.

Stephen Larkham was strangely loose, and, while he did some good things, he also caused a lack of congruency amongst his outside backs.

It was a break of Ashley-Cooper that opened the first points of the game, when he fed Staniforth to go over for the first try

After kicking the conversion and then a penalty – which then gave way to some mostly poorly aimed attempts – Huxley made the next break, to then double off Drew Mitchell for another try in the same corner.

Lote Tuqiri marked his comeback with a run off Staniforth’s inside shoulder to go over after that, and from then on, the Wallabies spent their time fumbling towards the Fijian line off the back of their mistakes and scoring when they managed to put a penetrative move together.

They attempted a greater foward-oriented game, but that simply does not befit them.

The halfbacks must be of concern to the Wallabies – Gregan showed why many critics say he does not break enough (he simply is not an attacking force) while Larkham is showing an ineptitude in connecting with his inside centre.

It must be said howe

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