Another hat-trick for Vunivalu as Fiji march into last eight
Suliasi Vunivalu scored his second hat-trick of the Rugby League World Cup as seven-try Fiji beat Italy 38-10 at Canberra Stadium to seal top spot in Group D and set up a quarter-final against New Zealand or Tonga.
Vunivalu helped himself to a treble in the rout of Wales and Italy were unable to contain the Melbourne Storm winger, who crossed three times in the space of eight second-half minutes as Italy missed out on a place in the last eight on Friday.
The prolific Vunivalu is the leading try-scorer in the tournament with eight from three matches and Fiji will need him to deliver when they take on the loser of the clash between the Kiwis and Tonga on Saturday.
It was not all plain sailing for Fiji, who were behind when Josh Mantellato produced a magnificent diving finish in the corner to put Italy in front 19 minutes in.
Italy were a match for Fiji in a feisty first half that saw Jarryd Hayne and Joe Tramontana sent to the sin-bin following a melee, but tries from Kevin Naiqama and Henry Raiwalui gave Mick Potter's men a 12-4 lead at the break.
Nathan Milone's converted score just after the break reduced the deficit, but Brayden Wiliame went over at the other end before Vunivalu took centre stage yet again.
3 - Each of the last three World Cups has now seen one player score multiple hat-tricks.-- OptaJason (@OptaJason) November 10, 2017
- Billy Slater
- Jarryd Hayne
- Suliasi Vunivali
The powerful flyer demonstrated his devastating finishing prowess, crossing twice in the space of three minutes and completing his hat-trick in a flash when playmaker Hayne set him up.
Marcelo Montoya added the seventh and final try for rampant Fiji as Terry Campese's Canberra farewell ended with a heavy defeat.