Good afternoon and welcome to the live commentary of the Rugby World Cup
clash between Australia
The Wallabies will be looking to get their campaign off to the perfect start this afternoon as they eye the chance to win the competition for the third time in eight attempts.
Australia are yet to enter the fray in the World Cup this year and will have been interested spectators to see former World Champions South Africa defeated by Japan. Michael Cheika
will have need no reminder about the dangers of competing against the lesser nations, but he will be determined to ensure that his side are not to be the victim of another upset at the competition this afternoon.
The Wallabies are in good form heading into the tournament and displayed their credentials of winning a major competition when they lifted the Rugby World Championship this year, which included a 27-19 victory over New Zealand in the final. Cheika has helped the nation find their form since his appointment to the role as head coach last year after Ewen McKenzie stood down. The 48-year-old has quietly made his side one of the outstanding candidates to win the Web Ellis trophy for a third time in their history.
Australia were on the receiving end of some revenge from the Kiwis in their World Cup warm-up match when they were hammered 41-13 at Eden Park, which extended their winless run at the stadium to 30 years. However, Cheika's side responded 47-10 win over the USA to get back into scoring form, but the match was on September 6 which could give them problems getting back into rhythm this afternoon.
Fiji gave an excellent account of themselves in the opening match of the tournament against England. McKee's men battled the host nation throughout the contest to make life extremely difficult for the Red Rose, but in the end Stuart Lancaster's men has enough to see them off in a 35-11 victory. Fiji will be determined to improve on their display to get their campaign back on track in the hope of reaching the quarter-finals for the fourth time in eight attempts.
Dan Lewis at the Millennium Stadium this afternoon and he gives us his views on the match ahead of kickoff:
"The Rugby World Cup may now be into its fifth day, but this afternoon we get our first glimpse of Australia in action. The Wallabies, as ever, are among the real contenders to go all the way in this year's competition and lift the Webb Ellis Cup.
"We have already seen Fiji in the curtain-raising fixture against hosts England last week. What did we learn from that one? Well, the Pacific Islanders will look to remain compact at the back in order to restrict their more-fancied opponents. Finding the target with the boot proved to be an issue in that opening meeting, though, having converted just two of their six kicks."
Let's take a look at the teams this afternoon, starting with the Wallabies.
Sio, Moore, Kepu, Douglas, Simmons, Fardy, Hooper, Pocock; Genia, Foley, Horne, Giteau, Kuridrani, Ashley-Cooper, Folau
REPLACEMENTS: Polota-Nau, Slipper, Holmes, Skelton, Mumm, Phipps, Toomua, Beale
Talebula, Nayacalevu, Goneva, Lovbalavu, Nadolo, Volavola, Matawalu; Ma'afu, Tuapati, Saulo, Cavubati, Nakarawa, Yato, Talei, Qera
REPLACEMENTS: Veikoso, Ravai, Colati, Soqeta, Ravulo, Kenatale, Matavesi, Tikoirotuma
Japan were not able to reconjure the magic of their performance in their win over South Africa as Scotland have secured a crushing 45-10 victory at Gloucester. Read more in our report here
Cheika has made several interesting selections for the tournament as Matt Giteau starts at inside centre. The 32-year-old had been out of the side for three years before he earned a recall before the Rugby World Championship. The Toulon centre proved his worth in the competition and will be looking to inspire his side this afternoon. The Wallabies boast experience in their pack as skipper Stephen Moore leads the way with 96 caps, while Michael Hooper, David Pocock
and Scott Fardy boast over 100 caps between them in the back row. Outstanding winger Adam Ashley-Cooper will continue to give opposing players nightmares down the wing in the competition, while powerhouse Israel Folau will raid forward with every opportunity from the back.
Fiji have made four changes to their side from their defeat to England. Hooker Sunia Koto, lock Apisalome Ratuniyawara, blindside flanker Peceli Yato and number eight Sakiusa Matadigo all come into the team for Tuapati Talemaitoga, Tevita Cavubati, Netani Talel and the suspended Dominiko Waqaniburotu.
More from Dan Lewis ahead of kickoff:
"Cardiff has been filling up throughout the day with more and more Australia supporters, who are full of hope on the back of their recent Rugby Championship success. This is a ground that holds special memories for the Wallabies, with the Millennium Stadium providing the backdrop for their 1999 World Cup success when they beat France in the final.
"Bonus points will be on the agenda this afternoon - it simply has to be in this toughest of pools. The England and Wales camps will be keeping a close eye on things, also, perhaps secretly hoping for - among other things - a few knocks picked up by the world's second best side."
Cheika has admitted that his side face an extremely tough task this afternoon and over the course of their Pool A games to reach the quarter-finals of the competition.
"The teams in our pool will be having a totally different lead in," Cheika told reporters.
"There is no feeling comfortable in our group. Perhaps that's how it should be. It's the World Cup and it will be tough every game and we will have to earn everything we get."
Worcester lock Tevita Cavubati believes that Fiji are capable of pushing on from their solid performance against England to defeat Australia.
"We felt really good in the game and we felt we were in control for some parts of the game," Cavubati told reporters.
"However, the fact we didn't win it is down to us. We are to blame for that.
"But now it's important we pick up a win. We need to enjoy it as well, because that is when we express ourselves most. We don't want to go into our shells now. We also know that one upset will change the pool altogether."
The view from the Millennium Stadium ahead of kickoff, we're just five minutes away now.
The anthems have been sung and Fiji have performed the Cibi. Kickoff is just seconds away.
KICKOFF! We're underway in this Pool A clash.
Couple of early mistakes from Fiji lead to two penalties for the Wallabies and Foley guides his side into the Pacific Islanders territory to put the pressure on early in the contest.
Bad news for Fiji as Waisea Nayacalevu looks to have sustained an injury on their first drive of the game. Hopefully, he is able to recover.
Folau surges through the gain line and the Wallabies are encamped inside the Fiji 22 in the early stages of the match, but they manage to keep them at bay and win the ball back to clear their lines. A missed opportunity from the Wallabies.
Australia raid towards the tryline again and they win a lineout down the right. However, Moore's throw travels beyond the fowards and Fiji manage to land on the ball and a penalty on Fardy allows them to clear once again.
SUBSTITUTION: Aseli Tikoirotuma comes on for the injured Nayacalevu.
A forward pass from Fiji wins Australia a scrum deep in their opponents' 22. The Wallabies work the ball across to the wing, but the pass from Giteau to Rob Horne sails just out of touch. However, a penalty on McKee's men will allow Australia a kick at the posts.
PENALTY! Australia 3-0 Fiji (Foley)
Foley sends his kick through the posts from close range with ease and the Wallabies have the lead.
Fiji's turn to put the pressure on as Foley tries to break through the gain line, but Leone Nakarawa wins the penalty and allows his side kick deep into the Australia 22.
drives towards the Australian defensive line and manages to break through a couple of tackles to within 10 metres of the tryline, but with no support Vereniki Goneva slides a grubber kick through looking for Tikoirotuma, although his kick bounces into touch.
Dan Lewis reports from the Millennium Stadium:
"Australia still yet to find their rhythm in this one, but once they do you just know they'll be a real force to stop.
"Wales and Ireland also struggled in the opening 15 minutes of their respective opening matches here, but now that those three points are on the board we may well have lift-off."
Scrum down in the middle of the field and the two sides are locked in a stalemate, despite heaving pushing from both teams. It's incredible to watch as neither team moves an inch before Fiji win the battle and earn the penalty. Great play from the Pacific Islanders.
Fiji kick deep into the Australia 22 and the they exert huge pressure on the Australia defence from the resulting maul. They push the Wallabies back on to their own tryline, but they cannot get the ball over, although another penalty allows them to keep the pressure on.
The Pacific Islanders kick for touch again and hammer the Australian line as body after body is thrown into the attack, and another penalty is won. However, Volavola's kick to the sideline for the run of Nadolo fails on this occasion and now they opt to kick for the posts.
PENALTY! Australia 3-3 Fiji (Nadolo)
Nadolo has no problems sending his kick through the posts from close range.
Matawalu nearly carves open the Australia defence as he bustles off the tackle of Hooper and then fires the ball out wide for the run of Tikoirotuma. The winger takes the run inside, but gets brought down and isolated, which allows the Wallabies to win the turnover and clear their lines through Foley.
Australia are nearly in as Matawalu commits a huge error inside his own 22. Folau crashes towards the line before the bal goes out wide to Douglas, but he drops the ball forward. However, the Wallabies have a penalty and they opt to kick for touch.
Cheika's men work the ball from left to right, but the Fiji defence show no signs of wilting under the strain. Giteau shifts the ball back to the right and the Wallabies earn yet another penalty when Genia is hit with a high-tackle.
TRY! Australia 10-3 Fiji (Pocock)
Australia finally get the breakthrough to notch the first try of the game as Moore's accurate delivery from the lineout finds Pocock at the back and he gets behind his fellow fowards to find space to raid over the line. Foley sends the conversion through the posts from a difficult angle.
YELLOW CARD! Fiji reduced to 14 men for the rest of the half as Campese Ma'afu stops the ball his foot at the breakdown, slowing down the play, which is spotted by the referee who sends him to the sin bin.
TRY! Australia 15-3 Fiji (Pocock)
From the resulting penalty of Ma'afu's infringment Australia crash over the tryline for the second time. Pocock scores his second try of the game when he receives the ball at the back of the lineout from Moore's throw, and once again he gets behind his forward to drive over the line for the simple score. Foley misses the conversion this time around, even though it was easier than the first.
Dan Lewis gives us his thoughts on Australia taking control of the game:
"Australia, as predicted, have now found their stride in South Wales. Fiji had a little spell of pressure which they couldn't quite capitalise on, and now it looks like being an ominous task.
"The Wallabies are here for bonus points, remember, so they are now firmly on track to achieving that target after a slow start."
Scrum down once again in the middle of the field and Fiji display their power once again to win the ball. Matawalu releases the run of Nadolo down the wing and he shrugs off one tackle to raid down the sideline. However, he holds on to the ball at the breakdown after being tackled and Australia win the penalty.
Another mistake by Fiji and another chance to add to the scoreline for the Wallabies.
PENALTY! Australia 18-3 Fiji (Foley)
Australia spurn the chance to extend their lead just before the break as Fiji make another handling error, giving the Wallabies an attacking platform deep in their territory. However, Simmons does not see the run of Pocock outside him and the opportunity is missed.
HALF-TIME: Australia 18-3 Fiji
Australia have taken command of the clash in the first half due to their quality in the final third of the pitch. The Wallabies have shown the clinical edge to push for the tryline whereas Fiji struggled to push for the line, despite having the ball in promising areas of the pitch. David Pocock has notched the two tries as the Pacific Islanders failed to stop the driving maul twice on their tryline.
RESTART! We're back underway at the Millennium Stadium.
Australia win a penalty and Foley kicks for touch to put the Wallabies inside the 22 in the opening minutes of the half.
TRY! Australia 25-3 Fiji (Kepu)
Australia extend their advantage as Folau makes a surging run down the left, drawing several defenders to the ball. Genia gets the ball from the ruck quickly and finds Kepu, who charges through a tackle and races over the line for the score near the posts. Foley makes no mistake from the conversion.
Not the start that Fiji wanted to the second half and it's a long way back for them now.
PENALTY! Australia 25-6 Fiji (Nadolo)
Fiji reduce the deficit slightly as Australia are penalised at the breakdown for trying to steal the ball off their feet. Nadolo displays good touch to send his kick through the posts from distance.
McKee's men fail to capitalise on another promising situation as they win a penalty and push into the Wallabies' half. However, their handling comes back to haunt them as Lovobalavu sends his pass over the head of Nadolo down the wing.
Dan Lewis reports from the Millennium Stadium:
"Australia within touching distance of that much-needed bonus point, but it is unlikely to take them until the dying seconds like England last week.
"It has been an assured display from the Wallabies over the last 40 minutes or so, yet I'm sure Michael Cheika will see plenty for his side to work on.ahead of a huge double against Wales and England."
Fiji are working the ball well down the wings, but the Australians are doing are solid job in defence by closing the space down just enough to force Nadolo, Tikoirotuma and Goneva into touch in three separate breaks down the flank.
Fiji are taking more risks in the final third of the pitch and Volavola goes for an ambitious pass down the flank, which comes within inches of being intercepted by the Wallabies and taken back the other way for a sure try.
Volavola breaks over the gainline again and he feeds the run of Goneva down the wing, but Horne manages to bring him down with a thundering tackle, although Fiji win the penalty to maintain the pressure.
TRY! Australia 25-13 (Volavola)
Fiji get the try to get back into the game. Volavola gets the score he has deserved for his exploits this afternoon as he fakes the handoff outside and surges through the gap. Douglas gets back at him, but he has just enough power to roll over for the score. Australia were the architects of their own downfall there as they failed to win the loose ball at the breakdown and Fiji seized on their poor organisation to notch their score. Nadolo has no problem sending his effort through the posts to bring his team within 12 points.
The Wallabies try to hit back immediately as Ashley-Cooper raids down the wing and surges towards the 22. Genia gets the offload, but he is brought down by a high-tackle, giving his side a penalty. Australia kick for touch but Fiji display their resilience at the lineout to win the ball and clear their lines. They do it again from ther resulting lineout to completley reverse territory.
Fiji break with menace down the right and Yato makes an excellent grab to surge forward, but he clashes heads with Slipper which knocks the Australian out cold. The game is stopped so the prop can receive treatment.
Dan Lewis reports ahead of the final 12 minutes of the match:
"In contrast to last week against England, Fiji are keeping their best until last by the looks of it.
Having punished a sloppy Australia, they are now just a converted try away from causing their opponents all sorts of problems in these final stages.
"Australia really do need that fourth try, but momentum is certainly not with them at this stage."
Australia get to kick the ball away following the injury, which halts all the momentum that Fiji had built. McKee's men struggle to build from the back, although they earn a penalty. However, a knock-on ends their attacking series, but Fiji believe that they will have a penalty only for the refree to call for an Australian put-in at the scrum.
PENALTY! Australia 28-13 Fiji (Foley)
Fiji lose their composure from the scrum and Australia put the game beyond their reach as Foley sends his kick from close range through the posts.
An error from Horne allows Fiji a lineout deep in Australia's territory and they now have a platform to launch a late assault on the trylin.
YELLOW CARD! Australia will end the game with 14 men as Tevita Kuridrani goes into the sin bin for slowing play in the ruck.
Fiji assault the line with everything they have in the final minutes as they pull the Australian defence one way then the next as Volavola and Kenatale try to find room for their side to break towards the line. Yato comes closest, but the defence from the Wallabies is solid and they eventually force the mistake, which should allow them to see out the win.
Australia win a penalty that will move them away from their 22. Foley's kick gives them an opportunity to push for the bonus point in the dying seconds.
A knock-on ends the Australia attack and Cheika's men will not win the bonus point, which could prove very costly.
FULL-TIME: Australia 28-13 Fiji
Australia get their campaign off to a winning start thanks to two tries from David Pocock and a score from Sekope Kepu
to secure a 28-13 victory. The Wallabies were put under severe pressure from Fiji and will have benefited greatly from the test this afternoon ahead of their important matches against Wales and England later in the competition. John McKee
's side played well, but just didn't have the clinical edge that Australia had in the final third, which proved to be decisive.
Thanks for joining our commentary today. Stick with Sports Mole for our coverage of the next match of the World Cup when France take on Romania. Until next time, goodbye.