Ugly incident mars Fiji’s advance to quarterfinals
FIJI have advanced to the Rugby League World Cup quarterfinals, 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 in Canberra 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 – like that enforced in the NRL – referee Robert Hicks had no hesitation in sin-binning Tramontana.
He was one of three players sin-binned in a poor first half, as the Bati finished top of pool D and will meet the loser of yesterday’s New Zealand-Tonga clash in the quarterfinals.
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 GETTY IMAGES went on with it from there.
‘‘We’ve worked pretty hard to get where we are,’’ Fiji hooker and man of the match Api Koroisau said of their quarterfinal appearance.
‘‘We have a lot of expectations on ourselves and we’re proud to be in the quarters and hopefully we can take it one step further to the semis.’’
Former Canberra player Terry Campese – playing in what was likely his last game – was troubled by an ankle 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, set up Josh Mantellato for the first Italian try.
‘‘It’s been a long couple of weeks – tearing my calf a week before the comp started. I tried every day to get out on the field with the boys,’’ Campese said.
‘‘I got through yesterday’s session and it was my first tackle I did my ankle. I couldn’t believe my luck. I didn’t go out a winner but I’m thankful for my time in rugby league.’’
Fiji’s Jarryd Hayne was sin-binned after an all-in scuffle against Italy in Canberra.