Wallabies pay a price for Fijian victory

The Wallabies may have paid a heavy price ahead of the first test against England after losing two key players during their 49-3 win over Fiji.

Front rower Ben Alexander was carried off midway through the second half with a knee injury and will be out of action for at least four weeks.

That came just moments after outside back Adam Ashley-Cooper, one of the better performers in the win over an outclassed Fiji, had limped off with an ankle injury.

Wallabies’ coach Robbie Deans confirmed that Alexander had suffered a grade two medial ligament injury and would play no part in the test matches against both England and Ireland.

“It could be four to six weeks out,” Deans said.

“It could be worse, that’s part of the territory, it’s bad luck.”

Australia used the run out against the Pacific Islanders to blood five new players at the start of a long international season.

After a slow start when they only led 14-3 at halftime, the Wallabies overwhelmed Fiji in the second 40 minutes, scoring seven tries and keeping the flamboyant visitors tryless.

Deans said the match was a useful preparation for the harder tests to come.

“The second half was great — it was the 80 minutes we had to have basically,” he said.

“Adjusting to test rugby, getting some cohesion within the group, adjusting to the conditions, getting our body position down because test rugby is different from Super 14.

“The boys worked their way through the challenges they had really well and we started to play some good rugby in the second half — a lot more composed, a lot more direct.

“We go into a test match next week against the English where we know it’s going to be for real,” Deans added.

“And we’re much better for that outing without a doubt.

“There were some good first entries to test rugby — the front rowers (hookers) Huia Edmonds and Saia Faingaa and (prop) Salesi Ma’afu.

“(Outside centre) Rob Horne was outstanding as well.”

Both Deans and fly-half Quade Cooper, who displaced Matt Giteau and Berrick Barnes to win the number 10 jersey, said the most pleasing aspect of the match had been the Australian defence.

“That’s something we pride ourselves on, our defence, and to see a clean sheet at the end of the game is something that we’re very happy with,” Cooper said.

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