Australia 'A' hand Fiji a crushing defeat
July 22, 2006

Australia 'A' handed Fiji a crushing 80-9 defeat last night, posting 12 unanswered tries against the visitors at Melbourne's Olympic Park.

Man-of-the-Match Cameron Shepherd and captain John Roe each bagged a double, while replacement winger Drew Mitchell scored a hat trick after coming on in the second half.

Shepherd, whose personal tally for the night was two tries and 10 conversions, was a standout for Australia A for the second consecutive week, the fullback making his presence felt all over the park in attack and defence and through a strong kicking game.

Home grown crowd favourite Digby Ioane was also on song and had a hand in the opening tries in both halves. Ioane also scored his own five-pointer in the 26th minute, weaving his way past three defenders to cross the line.

A penalty try to Australia A, awarded when Fiji intentionally struck down the ball, and a try to Ben Tune, who found space to score next to the posts just before half time, put Australia A in the lead 35-9 at the break.

While Fiji started well, playing their trademark fast and disruptive game in patches, Australia A proved the more disciplined side, the home team handing a painful lesson to the visitors when the scoreline blew out in the second half.

Australia A's forwards proved instrumental in their side's points haul, consistently setting a solid platform for the backs to work from and offloading plenty of quality ball that led to several tries, as well as keeping the opposition tryless through their defence.

At the lineout, Will Caldwell put in a strong performance, while Wycliff Palu and James Horwill were also key in securing possession for Australia.

The only setback for Australia A during the match was flyhalf Sam Norton-Knight being forced from the field early in the second half due to an AC joint shoulder injury.

2006 Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series

Australia A 80 (Drew Mitchell 3, Cameron Shepherd 2, John Roe 2, Digby Ioane, Ben Tune, Wycliff Palu, David Croft tries, penalty try; Cameron Shepherd 10 cons) defeated Fiji 9 (Jo Tora 3 pens)

Half time: Australia 35-9

Referee: Paul Marks (Australia)

Crowd: 6,334 at Olympic Park, Melbourne

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