Rugby League World Cup 2013: Fiji 32-14 Ireland

Rugby League World Cup highlights: Fiji 32-14 Ireland

Akuila Uate scored a hat-trick as Fiji thrashed Ireland in their opening World Cup Group A fixture at a sold-out Spotland in Rochdale.

Uate and Kevin Naiqama tries helped Fiji build a 10-0 lead before a Tyrone McCarthy score reduced the deficit.

Two more Uate scores after the break plus tries from Tariq Sims and brother Korbin sealed victory before Damien Blanch and James Hasson struck late on.

Ireland play England on Saturday, while Fiji take on Australia.

The top three teams from the group go through to the last eight, and the Bati will enter the second round of matches top of their pool.

Fiji were forged by the influx of Fijian signings at Rochdale Hornets during the 1960's, and did not disappoint a partisan crowd of 8,872 with a powerful display.

An emotional rendition of Fiji's team song left some of their players in tears prior to kick-off, but they soon regained their composure to make the perfect start.

Winger Uate, who scored two tries when the two nations met in a World Cup quarter-final five years ago, got Rick Stone's side on the scoreboard when he collected Naiqama's pass to slide over in the corner.

Full-back Naiqama barged through a weak tackle from Ireland centre Apirana Pewhairangi to extend the lead, albeit with the help of video referee Henry Perenara, who judged that hooker James Storer had not knocked on in the build-up.

McCarthy dived over from close range to reduce the deficit and Fiji's continuous indiscipline was punished when forward Eloni Vunakece was shown a yellow card for a high shot before half time.

Having extended their lead by a further two points thanks to a Wes Naiqama penalty, Tariq Sims capitalised on a handling error from Scott Grix to make it 18-4.

Newcastle Knights man Uate went over in similar fashion to his first try of the evening, and when Korbin Sims collected a high ball to touch down, the game was over as a contest.

Uate completed his hat-trick by barging past four tiring Irish defenders, and while Blanch and Hasson scored opportunist tries for the Wolfhounds in the dying minutes, there is much to ponder for coach Mark Aston ahead of their meeting with England in Huddersfield on Saturday.

Fiji full-back Kevin Naiqama: "It was definitely an important win. We have waiting a long time for this game and the boys were very anxious to play. I'm just glad we got the result because the guys players their hearts out.

"The people of Rochdale were great with their support and we thank them for that."

Ireland coach Mark Aston: "Fiji were very quick out of the blocks and it took us a little bit of time to get into it but, once we did and got a bit of rhythm, we got ourselves back in the game.

"We're a bit disappointed because we knew we could have got a bit closer and maybe, if we had been in it towards the end, we could have sneaked over and won the game. We get to live another day and we've got to look forward to Saturday."

Fiji: K. Naiqama; Koroibete, Waqa, W. Naiqama, Uate; Noilea, Groom; A. Sims, Storer, Civoniceva, T. Sims, Bukuya, K. Sims.

Replacements: Koroisau, Vunakece, Evans, Junior.

Ireland: S. Grix; Blanch, Littler, Pewhairangi, Richards; Mendeika, Finn; White, Kostjasyn, O'Carroll, McCarthy, Allen, Currie.

Replacements: Beswick, Hasson, Haggerty, Mullally.

Referee: Phil Bentham (England)

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