Red-hot winger Valentine Holmes claimed a record-breaking six-try haul and Billy Slater also made history as irrepressible Australia eased into the Rugby League World Cup final with a 54-6 demolition of Fiji.
Holmes scored five tries – a record for a World Cup match – in a quarter-final rout of Samoa and incredibly went one better at Suncorp Stadium as the ruthless holders set up a showdown with England or Tonga at the same venue next Saturday.
The Kangaroos flyer has 12 tries for the tournament, surpassing the previous record of 10 set by Wendell Sailor 17 years ago, and the influential Slater became the leading try-scorer in World Cup history in another devastating masterclass from the co-hosts.
Slater's double took his overall tally to 16, three of which came in a semi-final victory over the same opponents nine years ago, with Dane Gagai crossing twice and Cameron Smith scoring 14 points with the boot on a night when the magnificent Holmes took centre stage.
Fiji shocked New Zealand last weekend, but they were no match for Mal Meninga's men, Suliasi Vunivalu scoring a consolation as they were outscored by 10 tries to one, four years after being thumped 64-0 by Australia in the last four.
Tempers flared after former Australia playmaker Jarryd Hayne's early hit on Slater and Apisai Koroisau put Fiji in front with a penalty in a frantic start, but that proved to be a false dawn.
The 10-time champions led 13 minutes in when Slater crossed on the left to set a new World Cup record after Michael Morgan took advantage of some suspect defending from the Bati.
Holmes, brimming with confidence after his five-star display in Darwin, added a second try when Vunivalu misjudged a Morgan kick over top and the in-form winger rounded off a fluent move to complete a double.
The Kangaroos were rampant and Fiji were unable to live with them, Cooper Cronk darting an inviting pass out for the onrushing Gagai to charge through and sidestep a couple of tackles at pace to finish superbly nine minutes before the interval.
Smith's third successful conversion put the tournament favourites 22-2 up at half-time and the onslaught continued after the break, the rapid Holmes racing almost the full length of the field for a hat-trick after plucking a stray pass from Kevin Naiqama just a minute into the second half.
There was no respite for Mick Potter's side as the lively Slater burst clear for their sixth try after throwing a couple of dummies and Holmes moved level with Sailor by rounding off another slick move in the left corner.
Vunivalu gave the Fiji fans something to shout about by stooping low to scoop up a pass and go over, but Holmes applied the finish to another brilliant move to go out on his own with 11 World Cup tries and added another for good measure five minutes from time after a second from Gagai.
18 de diciembre 2017
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