The Wallabies got their Test season off to a winning start on Saturday, running seven tries past Fiji to win 49-3 in a one-sided encounter.
The Wallabies got their Test season off to a winning start on Saturday, running seven tries past Fiji to win 49-3 in a one-sided encounter in Canberra.
No one gave the under-strength Fiji team any realistic chance of beating a side ranked seven places higher than them on the IRB standings, so the real interest was in how Australia went about their business.
Australia's performance in the first half lacked the clinical finishing and cohesion the Wallaby coaching staff would have hoped for.
Featuring a number of new faces, the Wallaby line-up showed plenty of enthusiasm but were short on the precision you'd expect from a top Test team and on occasion they were just plain sloppy.
Slippery conditions due to the evening dew might be considered as mitigating circumstances, but Robbie Deans and his young charges will know that similar mistakes will be heavily punished later this month and in the Tri-Nations.
But as the team settled and the scoreboard ticked on, the hosts grew in confidence and promising signs emerged. Some slick handling resulted in succession of tries in the second period including two tries each for Digby Ioane and Kurtley Beale .
A potentially serious knee injury to prop Ben Alexander and an ankle injury to Adam Ashley-Cooper soured the victory, with both now doubts for next weekend's clash against England in Perth.
The early chances went to Fiji as the Islanders effectively used chip-and-chase tactics to destabilise the Wallaby defence. Beale struggled to hang onto the slippery ball and Racing Metro wing Sireli Bobo almost scored.
The Wallabies would however open the scoring with their first real attack of the evening when Quade Cooper threw a fantastic 20m pass out to Beale, who had one man to beat at the end of a huge overlap and coasted over.
Matt Giteau's extras gave the hosts a 7-0 lead and the Wallabies began to dominate possession.
But the men in gold struggled to convert their time with the ball into points as they fluffed a couple of chances to score after choosing to keep ball in hand rather than kick at goal.
Fiji got on the scoreboard just before the half-hour mark when Dan Rawaqa popped over a penalty.
The hosts continued to dominate but conspired to knock-on whenever the Fijian defence was stretched.
With half time looming large, the Wallabies finally found their way over the whitewash when debutant centre Rob Horne sliced his way through midfield to set up a try for number eight Richard Brown, who used his power to barge his way to five points.
Giteau was seeing stars after a late tackle so Cooper stepped up to add the conversion and send Australia to the charging rooms 14-3 up.
The Wallabies execution was better after the restart when Rocky Elsom timed his pass just right and Cooper skirted down the touchline to sneak over and extend the lead.
A flash of individual brilliance from Digby Ioane brought Australia their fourth try as the wing stepped and sped his way over the line untouched, making Rupeni Caucaunibuca look very ordinary in the process.
In the final quarter Australia produced some of the rugby the crowd had come to see. Giteau straightened the line, Cooper cut in on his inside and off-loaded to Drew Mitchell, who finished in style.
Ioane got his second try at the end of Australia's longest period of phase play as Beale joined the backline and couple of quick passes had the Fijian defence all at sea.
A impetus was taken out of a late rally from Fiji when replacement prop Graham Dewes threw a big right hook and was promptly directed to the sin bin.
Beale was handed his second try in the dying minutes as the Fijians ran out of gas and the Wallabies romped home.
Man of the match: The backs did most of the scoring but Nathan Sharpe made life miserable for Fiji in the line-outs and cleaned out the rucks like a good second row should.
Moment of the match: Australia's ten-twelve combination is what rugby dreams are made of and the way Giteau and Cooper linked up to produce Drew Mitchell's try was a pleasure to watch.
Villain of the match: We know front rowers are never saints, but Graham Dewes punch on Salesi Ma'afu was uncalled for.
Tries: Beale 2, Brown, Cooper, Ioane 2, Mitchell
Cons: Giteau 6, Cooper
Yellow cards: Vucago (Fiji, 54th min); Dewes (Fiji, 75th min)
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (c), 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Pekahou Cowan, 18 Mark Chisholm, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 Josh Valentine, 21 Drew Mitchell, 22 James O'Connor.
Fiji:Fiji: 15 Dan Rawaqa, 14 Tim Nagusa, 13 Rupeni Caucaunibuca, 12 Saula Radidi, 11 Sireli Bobo, 10 Waisea Luveniyali, 9 Emosi Vucago, 8 Jone Qovu, 7 Jim Nakaidawa, 6 Anthony Wise, 5 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 4 Seko Kalou, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Talemaitoga Tuapati, 1 Campese Ma'afu.
Replacements:16 Vili Veikoso, 17 Graham Dewes, 18 Rupeni Nasiga, 19 Samu Bola, 20 Vitori Buatava, 21 Ropate Ratu, 22 Nemani Nadolo.
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Keith Brown (New Zealand), Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)