Rugby League World Cup: Australia thrash Fiji 54-6 to reach World Cup final

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Australia 54-6 Fiji highlights
Rugby League World Cup semi-final
Australia:(22) 54
Tries: Slater (2), Holmes (6), Gagai (2) Goals: Smith (7)
Fiji:(2) 6
Tries: Vunivalu Goals: Koroisau

Valentine Holmes scored a record six tries as Australia thrashed Fiji 54-6 in Brisbane to reach their 14th straight World Cup final.

Fiji defeated New Zealand 4-2 to reach the last four and scored first through a Apisai Koroisau penalty.

But the clinical Kangaroos built a 22-2 lead by the break and Holmes' World Cup record haul was among 10 tries.

Billy Slater and Dane Gagai also crossed twice for Australia, while Suliasi Vunivalu scored for Fiji.

The Kangaroos will face the winners of Saturday's match between England and Tonga - a match that is live on BBC One and will also be streamed on the BBC Sport website from 04:30 GMT - in the final, which takes place in Brisbane on 2 December.

Looking elementary for Holmes

Australia winger Holmes scored five tries against Samoa in Darwin and went one better in Brisbane on Friday.

Valentine Holmes touching down to score another try
Holmes has now scored 12 tries at the 2017 World Cup

A couple of them were straightforward unopposed touchdowns in the corner after his team-mates shifted the ball wide but he also demonstrated his speed and finishing skill with some long-range scores.

Holmes plays at full-back for Cronulla Sharks in the NRL but has been clinical on the wing for the Kangaroos at the World Cup - and is in record-breaking form.

He broke his own record for tries in one match with his six against Fiji - and in doing so surpassed fellow Australian Wendell Sailor's record for tries at one World Cup.

That stood at 10 and was set in 2000 - but Holmes, who also scored in his team's win over France, has 12 with one match left to play.

And on a night of try-scoring feats, the irrepressible veteran full-back Billy Slater scored twice to take his tally at World Cups to 16 - taking him out on his own as the competition's all-time leading try scorer.

Can anyone stop Australia?

Australia remain unbeaten under coach Mal Meninga and have looked imperious so far at the World Cup.

They had a tough opening 18-4 win over England but have thrashed everyone they have played since then, conceding just 16 points in five games.

Their key players - captain Cameron Smith, half-back Cooper Cronk and full-back Slater - are all in good form and have allowed the Kangaroos to exert a huge measure of control in all of the matches they have played.

Billy Slater (right) in action against Fiji
Slater has now scored more World Cup tries than anyone else and is in excellent form for the Kangaroos

Their back line looks settled - with Holmes in record-breaking form - and their forwards have been setting up a platform for the men behind them.

Asked after Friday's semi-final whether anyone can stop Australia, Fiji coach Mick Potter said: "England might have a chance but Australia are so fast and so good and if you make a mistake they make you pay."

Wayne Bennett's England must first get past a powerful Tongan side that has already defeated New Zealand and will play in front of a crowd packed with vocal support in Auckland on Saturday.

There are an estimated 80,000 people of Tongan descent in Auckland - and that match at Mount Smart Stadium is a sell-out.

Plenty of passion - but too many errors

Fiji can leave this tournament with their heads high after reaching their third straight semi-final.

On the way there they defeated New Zealand - a Tier One nation - 4-2 in a thrilling quarter-final tie in Wellington that is probably the high point of their rugby league history.

And in Brisbane Fiji were once again brimming with emotion and passion as they sung their national anthem and then a moving hymn on the pitch before the match - with several players in tears.

It was a frustrating evening in Brisbane for the Fiji players
Hayne (centre) played for Australia at the last World Cup - and he found it tough against them on Friday

They took that emotion into the contest, Ashton Sims leading the way as Bati tore into their opponents.

But for the third straight time they were ultimately outclassed in a World Cup semi-final by a Kangaroos side that has so far swept all before them.

After Koroisau kicked a penalty to give them the lead, Bati helped to create their own problems by conceding a series of sloppy penalties and kicking poorly - and they were effectively out of the game by the break.

They created more problems for themselves straight after the restart when a loose pass was intercepted by Holmes, who raced the length of the field to score.

Key half-back Jarryd Hayne had a rare off night and they just could not exert any measure of control on the match.

"The game just ran away from us," conceded Fiji coach Mick Potter. "The boys tried their hardest and I cannot ask any more than that.

"We were nice and aggressive but over-cooked it a bit - and giving them easy metres off the back of penalties was cutting our own throat really."

But even after their thrashing, Fiji formed a circle with their opponents on the field and orchestrated more beautiful singing in what has been one of the stand-out images of this tournament.

Australia: Slater, Gagai, Chambers, Dugan, Holmes, Morgan, Cronk, Woods, Smith, Klemmer, Cordner, Gillett, McGuire.

Replacements: Graham, McLean, Campbell-Gillard, Frizell.

Fiji: Naiqama, Vunivalu, Milne, Uate, Montoya, Hayne, Raiwalui, A. Sims, Koroisau, Vunakece, Kikau, Wiliame, Kamikamica.

Replacements: Lovodua, Saifiti, Roqica, Nakubuwai.

You can follow the fortunes of your favourite team with live match notifications sent straight to your phone or tablet via the BBC Sport app. Line-up, kick-off, score, half-time and full-time options are available for all teams participating at the World Cup.

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