Australia had to overcome stronger-than-expected resistance from the competition minnows before clinching their place in the World Cup final against New Zealand. Full-back Billy Slater scored his second hat-trick of the World Cup and scrum-half Johnathan Thurston contributed 24 points as the Kangaroos eased through to next Saturday's showdown with New Zealand. It was comfortable enough in the end. But the Fijians battled strongly after overcoming a nervous start, and the Australians ran in four tries in the last quarter to earn a flattering margin of victory. The deeply-religious Bati sang a hymn on the pitch before kick-off but were quickly looking for some divine intervention as the Kangaroos raced into a 16-0 lead after only eight minutes. The Fijians appeared overawed in the opening stages, and the signs were not good when they failed to complete their first set. Right winger Brent Tate touched down twice, including a 70-metre effort, after loose forward Paul Gallen had opened the scoring - and with Slater also getting in on the scoring act, the Aussies were in complete control leading 22-0 after 16 minutes. But Fiji eventually overcame their hesitant start and shook Australia with some crunching defence, highlighted by a big hit by Jarryd Hayne on captain Darren Lockyer. Hooker Waisale Suka got to the line only to be turned on his back - before the Kangaroos pulled away in the final quarter, with Thurston scoring a 10-minute hat-trick of tries and taking his goal tally to six. Centre Greg Inglis provided a spectacular finish with a dive at the corner for his side's 10th try, and the only disappointment for Australia was the loss of Tate with a hip injury that makes him doubtful for the final. *PA Sport
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