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The Kangaroos have launched their World Cup title defence with a 42-8 win over a committed Fiji Bati outfit at Headingley Stadium.

A double to winger Josh Addo-Carr and a starring role off the bench by hooker Harry Grant provided the impetus for Australia's victory.

Five-eighth Cameron Munster showed his class throughout the Test and was rewarded with the player of the match award.

After the Kangaroos conceded a penalty for offside the Bati worked their way down field and came up with a superb try in just the fourth minute when Siti Moceidreke put in a perfectly weighted grubber for Semi Valemei to follow through and score.

Valemei was in the action again in the 11th minute when he combined with Maika Sivo to deny Kangaroos centre Murray Taulagi a try in the corner with good scramble defence.

The Kangaroos opened their account in the 16th minute when back-rower Jeremiah Nanai celebrated his Test debut with a try on the right edge after some slick passing from Cameron Murray and Daly Cherry-Evans.

Munster's player of the match performance

Nanai went within inches of making it a second in the 22nd minute but he was pulled up just short by Moceidreke and Ben Nakubuwai.

Two minutes later Australia had their second try when Josh Addo-Carr produced a length-of-the-field special after a quick shift from Latrell Mitchell.

A mistake by Pat Carrigan coming out of Australia's end handed Fiji a chance to hit back but Brandon Wakeham couldn't pick the ball up cleanly after Api Koroisau had grubbered expertly into the in-goal.

Jeremiah Nanai celebrates a try on his Test debut for Australia.
Jeremiah Nanai celebrates a try on his Test debut for Australia. ©RLWC2021/Getty Images

Angus Crichton grabbed his first Test try soon after as the Kangaroos stretched their lead to 18-4 at the half-time break.

The Kangaroos went further ahead early in the second half when Munster handled twice in a left side raid that resulted in Mitchell touching down for Australia's fourth try.

A 40-20 by Harry Grant in the 53rd minute to put Australia on the attack and the hooker cashed in on his own good work by darting over from dummy half as the score blew out to 30-4.

Skipper James Tedesco produced a trademark weaving run from 10 metres out in the 61st minute to grab his fourth Test try and Australia led 36-4. 

Fiji continued to fight to the end and Turuva grabbed a try after a deft grubber kick by Wakeham.

Match Snapshot

  • The first penalty of the game came after just two minutes when Jake Trbojevic was pinged for being inside the 10 metres.
  • Fiji lost their captain's challenge in the 13th minute after Viliame Kikau knocked on in the play-the-ball and the video ref ruled there was no interference from Australia.
  • The Kangaroos had seven debutants in their side for the World Cup opener - Murray Taulagi, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Angus Crichton and Jeremiah Nanai in the starting side and Harry Grant, Reuben Cotter and Pat Carrigan off the bench.

Addo-Carr fires in opening Rugby League World Cup match

  • Australia and Fiji have clashed seven times in World Cup matches with the Kangaroos winning all seven. Their last meeting was in the 2017 Cup semi-final in Brisbane where Val Holmes scored a record six tries in the 54-6 win.
  • Both sides made five errors in the first half with Australia completing 16 of 21 sets and Fiji completing 13 of 17. Fiji missed 35 tackles in the opening half compared to just five by the Kangaroos.
  • Fiji forward Viliame Kikau left the field in the 49th minute for a HIA which he passed and was able to return.
  • The Kangaroos had 59 tackle breaks for the match compared to nine for Fiji.
  • Rival forwards Reuben Cotter and Tui Kamikamica left the field in the 56th minute for a HIA after a head clash. Cotter failed his HIA and will be unavailable for the Kangaroos' next match.
  • Kangaroos centre Val Holmes was perfect with the boot, landing seven conversions from seven attempts.

Play of the Game

With the Kangaroos under the pump on their own line in the 24th minute, flying winger Josh Addo-Carr went the length of the field to grab his team's second try of the night. Skipper James Tedesco had cleaned up a grubber kick under his own posts before the ball went to Latrell Mitchell who saw the chance to get Addo-Carr into the clear with quick hands. 'The Foxx' then put it into overdrive and produced a brilliant swerve to evade Sunia Turuva and give Australia some breathing space at 12-4.

Josh Addo-Carr celebrates his runaway try against Fiji.
Josh Addo-Carr celebrates his runaway try against Fiji. ©RLWC2021/Getty Images

What They Said 

“We knew Fiji were going to come out really hard. They started really well so we had to combat that and we were lucky to get the win tonight. I think it was just execution for us. We should have scored a lot more points...we had a lot of opportunities but just didn’t execute them. We’ll go back to the drawing board and hopefully be a little bit better but we’re happy with the first performance."
- Kangaroos five-eighth Cameron Munster

“After last week’s game (trial match) we had to let it all go. Then getting four quality players from the grand final, we had a really good lead up to this week. We started off well, but we just needed to fix up some of the things in the second half like our discipline and giving them soft penalties. Playing against the number one team - Australia, we just tried to focus on the little things because the more we focus on them, the big things will take care of themselves. One of the key points from tonight is we need to work on our defence, especially on our try line, just to be more resilient.” - Fiji prop Tui Kamikamica

Fijian Hymn give chills to Headingley crowd

What's Next

The Kangaroos have six days before their second match against Scotland's Bravehearts in Coventry while the Bati face Italy in Newcastle on October 23. The Kangaroos will be without Reuben Cotter after he failed a HIA.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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