Superstar fullback Israel Folau has broken a year-long Test try-scoring drought to steer the Wallabies to a 37-14 win over Fiji on Saturday afternoon in Melbourne.
Folau came up with a try in each half at AAMI Park as the Australians dusted off the cobwebs in their first Test of the year. The last time 28-year-old Folau crossed the white stripe in Wallabies gold was June 11 last year against England.
Australia got off to a fast start with Folau opening the scoring in the fourth minute after Bernard Foley nailed a cross-field kick reminiscent of Cooper Cronk, which was fitting at the home of NRL side Melbourne Storm. Folau and Fijian fullback Kini Murimurivalu tussled for the ball in the air with the Australian pouncing on it when it went to ground.
Wallabies winger Henry Speight came up with their second try seven minutes later and it looked like the match may be one-way traffic. However, the home side lost their shape when Folau was yellow-carded for an accidental high shot on Fiji flanker Naulia Dawai in the 20th minute.
Australia kept the Fijians from scoring but didn’t manage to cross themselves again until the 55th minute, with some individual brilliance from Folau to weave through the defence. The Wallabies fullback ran onto a superb pass from Foley and then outsprinted the chasing defence to score out wide.
Fiji created plenty of chances, with lock Leone Nakarawa, who was part of their gold medal-winning Olympics sevens team, causing plenty of headaches. But too often a pushed pass and some scrambling defence from the Wallabies saw an attacking raid fall short.
Fiji managed to touch down twice in the second half through wingers Vereniki Goneva and Timoci Nagusa.
Australia led 18-0 at halftime, with regular skipper Stephen Moore coming off the bench to replace hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau in the 54th minute. Moore finished with a try himself after the Wallabies mauled it from a line-out five metres out on 68 minutes, while Speight grabbed his second try after full-time.