Australia beats Fiji 54-6 in Rugby League World Cup semi

BRISBANE, Australia — Winger Valentine Holmes became the first player to score six tries in a test as defending champion Australia beat Fiji 54-6 in the first semifinal of the Rugby League World Cup on Friday.

Holmes had been the first player to score five tries in a test last weekend in Australia's 46-0 win over Samoa in the quarterfinals.

He went one better on Friday to take his total for the tournament to 12 tries, breaking the record for a single Rugby League World Cup of 10 by former Kangaroos winger Wendell Sailor in 2000.

Fellow winger Dane Gagai and fullback Billy Slater added two tries apiece as Australia brushed aside Fiji by 10 tries to one. Slater's double took his tally in World Cups to 16, a record for one player.

Holmes scored in the 18th, 24th, 42nd, 52nd, 66th and 75th minutes as play perpetually ran towards his left wing and he benefited from the playmaking of captain Cameron Smith, five eighth Cooper Cronk, and halfback Michael Morgan.

"We've just got to throw the ball to Valentine Holmes. He's scoring left, right and center," Smith said.

Fiji, playing in its third World Cup semifinal, opened the scoring with a penalty to Apisai Koroisau in the sixth minute, reviving memories of its 4-2 win over New Zealand in the quarterfinals. Fiji was competitive early, massing tacklers on the ball-carrier and slowing the play-the-ball to reduce the tempo of Australia's game.

But through indiscipline, Fiji conceded two penalties which gave Australia attacking positions and it capitalized with two early try assists by Morgan. Fiji's defensive line became increasingly tentative, and Australia became more ruthless.

"We're playing some great football at the moment," said Smith, who was man of the match.

Australia will face England or Tonga in the final in Brisbane next weekend.

England and Tonga meet on Saturday in the second semifinal in Auckland, a sellout with more than 30,000 tickets sold, mainly to Tonga fans.

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