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FULL TIME: Fiji 32 Ireland14
10:18pm Monday 28th October 2013 in Sport
FIJI have gone top of Group A in the Rugby League World Cup after outmuscling Ireland in front of a sell-out Spotland crowd in Rochdale.
The Wolfhounds, with Tyrone McCarthy and back row partner Dave Allen prominent, stayed with the Pacific islanders until the final quarter.
Ireland, whose 23rd-minute try from Warrington’s McCarthy, trailed only 12-4 at the break but a hat-trick from Newcastle Knights wingman Akuila Uate took Fiji out of reach despite two late comeback scores from Mark Aston’s men.
The deadlock was broken in the ninth minute when Uate got the better of his marker Pat Richards, rewarding Fiji for forcing a drop out.
Another Newcastle man, Kevin Naiqama, swooped on a ricocheted kick five minutes later and his older brother Waisale Ligani Naiquama converted for 10-0.
Widnes Vikings back rower Dave Allen came to the Wolfhounds’ rescue soon after, holding up Petero Civoniceva as he crossed the line.
McCarthy got his score when he ploughed through Cronulla back rower Jayson Bukuya on the blindside from a quick Bob Beswick play-the-ball in the 23rd minute after mounting pressure paid off.
At 10-4, Allen dropped a pass from his skipper Liam Finn with the try-line begging.
Uate thought he had his second try in the 32nd minute after collecting a long high feed but Warrington referee Phil Bentham ruled the pass was forward.
While Fiji were down to 12-men due to the sin-binning of substitute Eloni Vunakece, a penalty goal from Penrith’s Wes Naiquama sealed Fiji a 12-4 lead at the interval.
The heavens opened at half time, giving the players a fresh challenge as the head coaches of Group A rivals England and Australia – Steve McNamara and Tim Sheens – watched on.
And in the wet Tariq Sims was in the right place to capitalise on a Fiji kick and, with the extras from Wes Naiquama, pushed Rick Stone’s side 18-4 ahead after 52 minutes.
A big hit on Eamon O’Carroll by scrum half Aaron Groom gave Fiji the possession for their fourth try in the 64th minute, Uate going over for his second score.
Fiji skied a high ball and a mix up in the Irish defence allowed Korbin Sims to go over, with Wes Naiquama’s goal making it 28-4 with 15 minutes to go.
Uate shrugged off Mendeika, McCarthy, Currie and Richards to complete his hat-trick with seven minutes remaining to move Fiji 32-4 clear.
The spirited Irish had the final say, though, with Catalan winger Damien Blanch and substitute James Hasson touching down in the closing stages.
Fiji: 1 Kevin Naiqama, 2 Marika Koroibete, 3 Sisa Ledua Waqa, 4 Waisale Ligani Naiqama, 5 Akuila Uate, 6 Alipate Noilea, 7 Aaron Groom, 8 Ashton Sims, 9 James Storer, 10 Petero Civoniceva, 11 Tariq Sims, 12 Jayson Bukuya, 13 Korbin Sims. Subs: 14 Apisai Koroisau, 15 Eloni Vunakece, 16 Kane Evans, 17 Vitale Junior Roqica.
Ireland: 1 Scott Grix, 2 Damien Blanch, 3 Stuart Littler, 4 Apirana Pewhairangi, 5 Pat Richards, 6 James Mendeika, 7 Liam Finn, 8 Brett White, 9 Rory Kostjasyn, 10 Eamon O'Carroll, 11 Tyrone McCarthy, 12 Dave Allen, 13 Ben Currie. Subs: 14 Bob Beswick, 15 James Hasson, 16 Kurt Haggerty, 17 Anthony Mullally.
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