Fiji Bati wins bitter battle over Italy


battiIN one of the most charged matches of the tournament, Fiji have survived a scare against Italy to win 38-10 in Canberra.

FIJI have advanced to the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals however their 38-10 win over Italy has been overshadowed by an ugly incident after Jarryd Hayne was sin-binned.

Hayne and Joe Tramontana were marched from the field for 10 minutes late in Friday night’s first half after an all-in scuffle in which the Italian dummy half threw a punch at Suliasi Vunivalu.

As Hayne and Tramontana walked up the GIO Stadium tunnel, Tramontana had to be restrained by an Italian staff member after seemingly taking offence to something said by Hayne.

Despite the tournament not imposing an automatic sin bin rule for punching — which is enforced in the NRL — referee Robert Hicks had no hesitation in sin- binning Tramontana.

He was one of three players sin-binned in what was a diabolical first half, as the Bati finished top of pool D and will meet the loser of Saturday’s New Zealand-Tonga clash in the quarter-finals.

Fiji winger Vunivalu scored three times in eight minutes — to extend his tournament tally to eight — to take the game out of Italy’s hands midway through the second half.

After Fiji led 12-4 at halftime, Italy brought the game to life with a contender for try of the World Cup. The Azurri kicked twice before Nathan Milone received a lucky bounce to score between the posts.

However, after Kevin Naiqama pulled off a try-saver on Mason Cerruto, Fiji went the length of the field on the next set to score through Brayden Wiliame and went on with it from there.Former Canberra champion Terry Campese — playing in what was likely his last game — was clearly troubled by a calf injury and his night ended when he was benched in the 57th minute.

The 33-year-old, who this year captain-coached Queanbeyan to a premiership in the Canberra local competition, was given a fitting farewell in front of his local fans.

He set up Josh Mantellato for the first try with a floating pass.

FIJI 38 (S Vunivalu 3 M Montoya K Naiqama H Raiwalui B Wiliame tries A Koroisau 3 T Milne 2 goals) bt AZZURRI 10 (J Mantellato N Milone tries J Mantellato goal) at GIO Stadium.