RLWC: Fijians flex muscles with USA rout
JARRYD Hayne became the equal greatest try-scorer in Rugby League World Cup history as Fiji sent a warning to their Pacific rivals with a 58-12 flogging of the inexperienced USA.
Hayne moved to 13 World Cup tries, equal with Immortal Bob Fulton when he broke down field to score the Bati's first four-pointer of the second half in Townsville after they leapt to a 36-6 lead at the break.
While so much of the focus around Tonga's high-profile acquisitions before the beginning of the tournament, Fiji reminded their rivals why they have made the past two World Cup semi-finals.
Hayne set up two first-half tries to go with his record-equalling effort, while Kevin Naiqama, Taane Milne and Suliasi Vunivalu each had doubles in the 11 tries to two Pool D match on Saturday.
On track for a likely quarter-finals date with either Tonga or Samoa, Akuila Uate also crossed for one as part of one of the most destructive backlines of the tournament.
"Suli was unbelievable," Hayne told the Seven Network post-match. "He's a pretty lean type of bloke but his strength is unbelievable. He was awesome. And Uate as well.
"We just wanted to get early ball to him."
However the victory came at a cost, with Parramatta-bound prop Kane Evans likely ruled out for the tournament with a broken wrist sustained as he crossed for Fiji's fifth try in the first 17 minutes.
But the headlines will again revolve around five-eighth Hayne given he has the chance to go clear at the top of the all-time try scorers list in next Sunday's clash with Wales also in Townsville.
The Gold Coast star scored nine tries for Australia in the 2013 World Cup, while Saturday's four-pointer was his forth for Fiji after he crossed for three in the 2008 tournament.
"It's a special moment going back to Fiji," Hayne said.
"My father being Fijian, it's great that I can represent both nations at the World Cup.
"Definitely meant a lot going back to Fiji and seeing the people there and how much the game has grown in nine years - it's been unbelievable." Meanwhile United States' only moments of joy came when forward Matt Shipway stepped through Fiji's defence in the first half, while ex-Penrith and South Sydney winger Junior Vaivai crossed during a rare attacking raid inside the final 10 minutes.
FIJI 58 (T Milne 2 K Naiqama 2 S Vunivalu 2 K Evans J Hayne V Kikau H Raiwalui A Uate tries A Koroisau 5 T Milne 2 goals) bt TOMAHAWKS 12 (M Shipway J Vaivai tries B Faraimo 2 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Referee: Henry Perenara. Crowd: 5,103