ROCHDALE, England (AP) — Winger Akuila Uate scored three tries and had another disallowed as Fiji ran over Ireland 32-14 in the Rugby League World Cup at its home away from home on Monday.
Rochdale was the town where the first Fijians came to play league in England in 1961, and with backing from most of the sellout crowd of 8,800 in Spotland Stadium, the 2013 squad treated them to six tries and some bone-rattling defense.
The Irish scored two tries in the last three minutes when the result was already beyond doubt, but they were generally overmatched. The result put Fiji, a semifinalist in 2008, on course for the quarterfinals. The top three from Group A, which includes Australia and England, advance. Australia's and England's coaches, Tim Sheens and Steve McNamara, were in the stands, and they would have been impressed, especially Sheens with his former Kangaroo wing, Uate.
Uate opened and closed Fiji's scoring. He dragged two Irishmen over the line with him in the ninth minute, took another setup pass from fullback Kevin Naiqama for his second in the 64th, and bulldozed through four Irishmen for his third in the 73rd.
Naiqama scored the second try in the 13th after James Storer's sliced chip rebounded off an Irishman as Fiji appeared to be skipping away at 10-0. But Fiji then had two tries disallowed on review, and only conceded its first points after six minutes of sustained Irish pressure. Second-rower Tyrone McCarthy finally broke through from dummy half.
But even with secondrower Eloni Vunakece yellow-carded for persistent fouls, Fiji still scored, adding a 20-meter penalty by Waisale Ligani Naiqama to take a 12-4 lead into halftime. Rain began during the interval but the Fijians brushed that off, too.
The Irish dropped a high kick, standoff Alipate Noilea scooped it up, spun out of a tackle and offloaded with a reverse flick for Tariq Sims to score. Uate crossed for his second, then Korbin Sims jumped higher than his brother Tariq to catch and score off a pinpoint high kick by Noilea from near halfway. Uate finished off his hat trick, and Ireland finished with tries to winger Damien Blanch and James Hasson.
Ireland next plays Saturday against England, which is coming off a loss to Australia. England will be without Sam Burgess after he received a one-match ban for a high tackle last weekend which left Australia secondrower Sam Thaiday concussed.
On Tuesday, Tonga plays Scotland.