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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Australia thrash Fiji to reach World Cup final

Australia crushed Fiji 52-0 at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday to join New Zealand in next weekend's centenary rugby league World Cup final.

Fullback Billy Slater and scrumhalf Johnathan Thurston scored hat-tricks as the Kangaroos ran in 10 unanswered touchdowns.

Wing Brent Tate scored an early double before limping off in the first half with a hip injury that could force him out of next Saturday's final in Brisbane while lock Paul Gallen and centre Greg Inglis crossed once each.

The Fijians, who were appearing in the semi-finals for the first time, were hopelessly outclassed by the Australians, who have won each of the past six World Cups dating back to 1975.

"Full credit to Fiji and how far they have come in this tournament, the scoreboard didn't reflect the intensity of the tackles out there," Australia captain Darren Lockyer said in a televised interview.

"Our defence is great at the moment and we are going to need to keep that standard next in the final against the Kiwis."

Any hopes of a tight contest disappeared almost as soon as the match began with the Australians scoring after just 63 seconds and running in three tries inside the first 10 minutes.

Fiji managed to keep the Australians scoreless for the next 22 minutes but the Kangaroos scored twice more to lead 26-0 at halftime, then piled on another five in the second term.

"We learned a lot of things from this game," Fiji coach Joe Dakuitoga told a news conference.

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