League: Fijian flair ends French fancy

WORLD CUP
Fiji 42 France 6

It's a long time since the golden era of French rugby league and high hopes they might be returning to more honey-coloured success were snubbed out by Fiji last night.

The Tri Colores have twice been World Cup runners-up (1954 and 1968) but there will be no such heroics this time around.

They won't even get out of their group.

France were highly favoured to emerge as winners of Pool 2, particularly after their 36-18 win over Scotland last week and collection of decent results against New Zealand and Australia in recent times, but they were made to look ordinary by a Fiji side who will now fancy their chances of winning through to the last four.

Fiji can progress to the semifinal qualifier against the winner of Pool 3 if they can beat Scotland on Wednesday night.

They can even afford a narrow loss, so superior is their points differential.

Fiji had the game under control as early as the 42nd minute, when Akuila Uate scored his second try

and Fiji's fourth to open out to a decisive 24-6 lead.

Uate was the star of the show and will surely add to the four NRL games he played for the Newcastle Knights this season.

Fiji's strength is their backline and it's stacked with experience with the likes of Jarryd Hayne (Eels), Wes Naiqama (Knights), Daryl Millard (Bulldogs), Semi Tadulala (Bradford Bulls).

Brisbane's Ashton Sims did a good job leading an inexperienced forward pack with players straight out of clubs like the Parkes Spacemen, Terrigal Sharks and Fassifern.

France didn't have the flair or fluency to get back into the game, especially against a team that employed good doses of discipline, as well as pace and power.

If Fiji do progress to the semifinal qualifier, probably against Samoa, they would not look out of place

in the final four on the evidence of last night.

They got on the front foot as early as the seventh minute, when Hayne dummied his way over for the night's opening try.

Fiji's second was less convincing and they were given the benefit of the doubt by the video referee after the ball ricocheted off Hayne's shoulder into the arms of a jubilant Iowane Divavesi of Terrigal Sharks fame.

France got on the scoreboard on the half hour through transplanted Frenchman John Wilson but it was the only high-point in a disappointing night for them.

As the try-count mounted and they were forced to trudge back behind their own line for each conversion, the looks of shock turned to utter despair.

Fiji deservedly took an 18-6 lead into halftime and they piled on four more tries in the second spell to post the most convincing scoreline of the World Cup.

The kava would have been flowing freely on the streets of Suva last night. For France, it was a night to forget.

Fiji 42 (A. Uate 3, J. Hayne 2, I. Divavesi, S. Tora tries, W. Naiqama 7 gls) France 6 (J. Wilson try, T. Bosc gl). Halftime: 18-6.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 02 Aug 2014 02:29:29 Processing Time: 1600ms