PNG hold on to up­set Fiji

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

Papua New Guinea shocked far more-fan­cied Fiji 26-14 in the first of the NRL’S Pa­cific tests at Camp­bell­town Sta­dium in Syd­ney on Satur­day.

De­spite giv­ing up more than 500 games of NRL ex­pe­ri­ence to their ri­vals, the Ku­muls flew to a 26-4 half­time lead and held on in in the sec­ond half as Fiji en­joyed the weight of pos­ses­sion.

With just six NRL play­ers to Fiji’s 10, the Ku­muls ran in four tries, full­back Justin Olam star­ring with one and set­ting up another while winger Ju­nior Rau bagged a dou­ble.

How­ever, Mel­bourne rookie Olam’s evening ended in pain when he left the field mid­way through the sec­ond half with a leg in­jury, af­ter run­ning 174 me­tres in a dom­i­nant dis­play.

Manly’s NRL in­jury cri­sis also took another hit, with Fiji winger Akuila Uate limp­ing from the field with an ap­par­ent an­kle in­jury late in the first half.

Coming off their third-suc­ces­sive World Cup semi­fi­nal and, in their first game with Matt Adam­son as coach, the world No 5 Bati had plenty of ball early in both halves but strug­gled to take their chances.

Jar­ryd Hayne – play­ing in the halves – laid on two tries and Su­liasi Vu­ni­valu scored one on the wing in the sec­ond half but the Bati al­ways looked as if they had too much to make up.

In com­par­i­son, the 10th-ranked Ku­muls looked ev­ery bit the team who had nine play­ers who run out to­gether ev­ery week for the PNG Hunters in the Queens­land Cup un­der coach Michael Marum.

They com­pleted at 81 per cent in the first half and broke through the line four times, in­clud­ing one length-of-the-field ef­fort on the set af­ter a kick­off to put the game be­yond doubt be­fore the break.

For­mer Can­berra and St Ge­orge Illawarra prop Luke Page scored a try and had three tackle busts, while Can­ter­bury’s Reece Martin and the Hunters’ Nixon Putt were dam­ag­ing in the sec­ond row.

The win marked the Ku­muls’ sec­ond in a row over Fiji, hav­ing also beaten the Bati in 2016 in the cor­re­spond­ing fix­ture.

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