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Lewis injury sours Australia RLWC win over Fiji

ST HELENS, England, Nov 3 - A tournament-ending shoulder injury to back-rower Luke Lewis soured Australia's 34-2 Rugby League World Cup win over Fiji in St Helens on Saturday night.
Lewis injury sours Australia RLWC win over Fiji
by AAP

By Liam FitzGibbon

ST HELENS, England, Nov 3 - A tournament-ending shoulder injury to back-rower Luke Lewis soured Australia's 34-2 Rugby League World Cup win over Fiji in St Helens on Saturday night.

The Kangaroos overcame atrocious conditions as they scored six tries and conceded none at Langtree Park to climb to the top of Group A.

But the result was overshadowed by a sickening injury to Lewis, who dislocated his left shoulder after sliding at speed into an advertising sign with 10 minutes to go.

There was immediate concern for the Cronulla star, who was assisted off the field in agony, and it took more than 15 minutes for medical staff to get his shoulder back into place.

Tim Sheens said Lewis would miss the rest of the tournament and the Kangaroos coach and his players were devastated for the 30-year-old.

"It's definitely the end of his tour," Sheens said.

"He's a great tourist, a great member of the squad, all the boys love him and he obviously can play.

"It's going to be a big loss for us.

"It is disappointing for the group - the boys are pretty concerned for him.

"He's in good hands with the medical staff and he'll recover from it. It's not a career-ending injury or anything like that.

"It's just disappointing for his tournament."

Sheens said he hoped to add a replacement to the squad in coming days but it's unclear whether they will be allowed to do so under World Cup rules.

"I think for a serious injury like that, I'm hoping we will," Sheens said.

The injury marred a solid performance from the tournament favourites, though Sheens said his side still had plenty to work on.

"I think we were rusty and we did some silly things but defensively we were very good," he said.

Daly Cherry-Evans impressed in place of the rested Cooper Cronk at halfback, scoring a try and setting up two others, while five-eighth Johnathan Thurston produced a series of stunning sideline conversions in the toughest of kicking conditions.

Josh Papalii scored a try on debut while Michael Jennings, Darius Boyd, Josh Morris and Lewis also had four-pointers.

As with their opening win over England, Australia were guilty of some uncharacteristic errors but some sloppy play was inevitable in the conditions.

Australia had the luxury of playing their tournament opener under the Millennium Stadium roof but they were well and truly exposed to the elements in front of around 14,137 fans in St Helens.

The match began amid driving rain, strong winds and single-figure temperatures and the conditions acted as a leveller between the sides early on until Australia's class shone through.

Fiji had never come within 50 points of Australia in three previous meetings but they did an admirable job and captain Petero Civoniceva led the charge as one of the best forwards on the park.

"We defended pretty well considering we are playing against a champion Kangaroos side," Fiji coach Rick Stone said.

"We didn't gift too many soft tries."

Both teams took time to adjust and it was Fiji who started stronger, opening the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty through Alipate Noilea.

Australia scored the first try in the 16th minute when Canberra forward Papalii was played into space by a lovely Cherry-Evans ball and barged his way over the line.

Boyd combined with Lewis to extend Australia's lead in the 21st minute before Jennings crossed out wide 10 minutes later.

Morris and Cherry-Evans added tries in the second half before Lewis finished a well-worked move in the 67th minute.

However Lewis' night and tournament ended cruelly shortly after as he collided with Jennings and slammed into the sign, set close to a short in-goal area.

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