At number 7 in the current world rankings Fiji were the first team in the Rugby League world cup to finish with a 100% record and top group D, after seeing off Italy 38-10 in Canberra this morning.
The Balti, took a little more time to get into this game than they did in their big wins over USA and Wales, but once they got their noses well enough in front with 20 minutes to go their class finished off the job.
In a tight but scrappy first half that saw Referee Robert Hicks banish three yellow cards, with Italy’s Jayden Walker getting an early rest for a professional foul, before the Azzurri hooker Joe Tramontana and Balti halfback Jarryd Hayne were both set for 10 minutes rest after their involvement in scuffle! Italy took the lead 4-0 thanks to Josh Mantellato try, that saw the Balti behind on the score board for the first time during this tournament. Thankful for their coach Mick Potter this seemed to give them the wakes up call they needed and thanks to tries from Skipper Kevin Naiqama and Henry Raiwalui on the stroke of half time, both of which were converted to make it 12-4 at the break.
The second half started brightly for the Azzurri when Nathan Milone following up his own kick to scored one of the tries of the tournament so far, but that was as close to the Balti has they got as the next 5 tries were all one way with Melbourne Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu notched up his 6th,7th and 8th tries of the tournament with an 8-minute hat trick sandwiched between tries from Catalans Dragons player Brayden Wiliame and Marcle Montoya.
The result means Italy are out, however, Fiji will play the runner up of Group B which is likely to be the loser of tomorrows clash between Tonga and New Zealand.