AAP Rugby

Hodge tackle probe after Wallabies win

By AAP Newswire

Fiji have accused Reece Hodge of a dangerous tackle during Australia's 39-21 opening pool win that could threaten the winger's involvement in the Rugby World Cup.

The incident cast a cloud over a fighting Wallabies win, having trailed by nine points early in the second half before forward power propelled them to four tries in the last 25 minutes.

Officials were expected to pore over footage of Hodge's apparent high, no-arms tackle in the first half that may have prevented a Fijian try and resulted in a match-ending concussion to flanker Peceli Yato.

The first half belonged to the Fijians and they could have been further clear if early try-scorer Yato had doubled his account in the 26th minute when charging towards the line.

However, Hodge's collision stopped the big forward in his tracks, prompting furious Fiji captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu to demand that referee Ben O'Keefe refer the incident to TMO Rowan Kitt.

Englishman Kitt had no problem with the impact but that won't stop further action if a citing official believes it's warranted.

Australian coach Michael Cheika said he had accepted the TMO's call and moved on.

"I saw the collision, it was a massive one, a try-saver. But that's all I know about the incident," he said.

Fiji coach John McKee wouldn't comment on incident that had sparked pockets of outrage on social media but said his team, who were up 11-7 at the time, paid a heavy price.

"It had a big impact on the game, losing him to concussion. It was a huge loss for us," he said.

Defeat would have been catastrophic and sent the Wallabies into a do-or-die clash with Wales next week.

However, composure was a feature of their comeback and they finally hit the front in the 62nd minute, when hooker Tolu Latu bagged the second of two tries from lineout drives.

Trailing 21-12 with half-an-hour remaining on Saturday, the Australian pack took command to ensure they dodged what would have been arguably their worst result in World Cup history.

Despite ultimately scoring six tries to two, there is plenty of work for Cheika's men to do before playing Wales next week after an error-riddled first half display in which they were physically bullied.

Trying to match their opponents' flair backfired badly as the smaller Wallabies' backs were man-handled or knocked over like tenpins. Passing and attacking skills were abject at times.

But there were early hints of dominance at scrum time and in driving play, an advantage which had turned into a chasm by the end of the game.

Yato's early try reflected Fiji's dominance before skipper Michael Hooper powered over to reduce the scoreline to 8-7.

Hodge crossed soon before the break after Ben Volavola had slotted two Fiji penalties.

Australia made a horrific start to the second spell when Samu Kerevi's loose pass was snapped up by midfield counterpart Waisea Nayacalevu, who galloped 50m.

The Wallabies established forward dominance, setting up Latu for his brace before Fijian-born Wallabies Kerevi and Marika Koroibete completed the scoring.