Flyhalf Quade Cooper created four tries with his clever passing and scored one himself as a rusty Australian side beat Fiji 49-3 in their rugby test at Canberra Stadium on Saturday.
Cooper, who was a stand-out performer for the Queensland Reds in the Super 14, was provided plenty of ball by his forwards to attack the Fijian defensive line and use his sleight of hand and deft passing to put his outside backs into space.
The Wallabies dominated possession and territory, but stubborn Fijian defence, moist ground conditions that made the ball slippery and a lack of combinations contributed to the rusty performance by the home side.
Australia coach Robbie Deans, however, faces some injury concerns after utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper went off with an ankle injury following a heavy tackle. Prop Ben Alexander was carried off when his leg got trapped underneath his body at a ruck and he suffered suspected knee ligament damage.
‘I think we were able to turn it on after halftime and keep it on after that,’ Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom said of their unanswered 35 points in the second half.
‘One thing you know about Fiji is that they're extremely difficult to tackle if you give them space, so I think we worked well as a (defensive) line there and the scoreline shows that.’
The Wallabies opened the scoring when fullback Kurtley Beale crossed in the 11th minute after a long pass by Cooper put him into the gap, with inside centre Matt Giteau converting.
Neither side troubled the scoreboard again for almost another 20 minutes when Fiji fullback Taniela Rawaqa slotted a penalty.
Australia number eight Richard Brown managed to give the home side some reward for their efforts when he scored after a break by debutant centre Rob Horne, who had been put through by a short pass by Cooper, in the final minute of the first half.
Cooper was called upon for the conversion, because Giteau was having treatment after receiving his third heavy tackle.
The flyhalf opened the scoring in the second half when a Fijian attack broke down and the Wallabies stormed downfield and spread the ball quickly to the lurking flyhalf.
Winger Digby Ioane also capitalised on another turnover and sprinted 50 metres untouched as a bemused Fijian side watched him run away.
Cooper then provided the final inside pass to replacement Drew Mitchell, while Ioane also crossed for his second try with 12 minutes remaining, before Cooper again turned the ball back inside for Beale to score his second with three minutes left.