Folau double steers Wallabies past Fiji
By: Michael Tozer
Published: 10 June 2017 Image credit: Getty Images
The Wallabies have started their 2017 campaign in perfect fashion - with a decisive 37-14 victory over Fiji in Melbourne.Australia were boosted by doubles from Israel Folau and Henry Speight - while Stephen Moore chipped in with a try of his own for the afternoon.
Folau was in fine form this afternoon - and the fullback opened the scoring in the fourth minute when he pounced on a cross-field kick from Bernard Foley and opened his account for 2017.
The points kept coming for the home team, as they took on the Fijian defense through some silky ball movement - and three minutes later, a penalty goal from Foley saw the Wallabies lead lift to ten points.
The Wallabies did not relent and continued to throw the ball around - and in the 11th minute, Henry Speight crossed over in the corner after scooping up a long-range ball from Dane Haylett-Petty to extend the margin to 15 points.
However, the momentum of the men in green and gold was slowed in the 20th minute when Israel Folau was given a yellow card for a high tackle - giving Fiji a chance to trouble the Wallabies defense, but a penalty gave Australia a brief reprieve.
Foley looked likely to score the Wallabies third try of the afternoon when he latched onto a long-ball and streaked away with an intercept - but the fly-half lacked the leg speed to break away and score.
Fiji finally had their opportunity to add points before the half when Ben Volavola lined up for a penalty goal - but pushed it wide, giving Australia an 18-0 lead heading into the major break.
The Wallabies picked up where they left off in the second half - mounting pressure on the Fijian goal-line, but two disallowed tries in the first ten minutes meant there was little to show for it, before Folau crossed over for his second try in the 55th minute push the score to 25-0
The Australian edge defense was strong on the afternoon - highlighted by debutant Karmichael Hunt's 13 tackles, an impressive feat given the size disadvantage he faced out wide against the Fijian backs.
All hopes of a shutout from the Wallabies were lost in the 63rd minute, when Fijian winger Vereniki Goneva slipped through the Australian defense to open his teams account and narrow the margin to 20.
However, Australia were quick to reply - this time through Stephen Moore - as the hooker crashed over off a strong scrum and sealed the game for the home team in the 68th minute, pushing the lead back to 25 points.
Australia were tested defensively in the final ten minutes - as the Fijian forwards caused headaches for the Wallabies, which resulted in a try at the death to winger Timoci Nagusa with three minutes to go.
The margin was 18 when the final siren sounded - but some poise from the Wallabies after the bell saw Henry Speight cross for his second try in the 83rd minute and clinch the win for Australia.
Tries: Folau 2, Speight 2, Moore
Pens: Foley 2
Yellow cards: Israel Folau (20')
Tries: Goneva, Nagusa
Cons: Volavola 2