May 7, 2016

PNG Kumuls beat Fiji Batis in Pacific rugby league thriller

Kumuls celebrate after beating Fiji 24 - 22. NRL Photo
THE Papua New Guinea Kumuls stunned the Vodafone Fiji Bati 24-22 in a thriller at Pirtek Stadium, Sydney, Australia last night.

They scored a come from behind victory —— their first international feat after 16 years.

The James Storer-captained Fijians led 16-8 at the break.

Papua New Guinea scored first when Watson Boas scooped up a loose ball to score next to the posts.

A penalty goal stretched their lead to 8-0, but then Fiji took control on the back of some destructive runs from Roosters prop Kane Evans with the Kumuls unable to handle his size, footwork and athleticism. Eloni Vunakece scored first off a neat inside ball from Maurice Kennedy before debutant winger Etuate Qionimacawa scored back to back tries off the boot of clever five-eighth Sitiveni Moceidreke to help give Fiji a 16-8 lead at half-time.

The game swung back and forth with both sides running freely and showing great adventure with ball in hand.

Qionimacawa completed his hat-trick inside the final five minutes but the Kumuls managed to hold on for a victory in a stirring advertisement for the merits of Test football.

Fiji National Rugby League chief executive officer Timoci Naleba said the Fiji Bati played well against the experienced Kumuls.

"We fielded seven debutants and one of them, Qionimacawa, scored three tries. We lost, but we are happy with the performance of a young team led by some experienced and veterans in the code like captain Storer," he said.

The Fiji-based players return home tonight. Papua New Guinea 24 (Watson Boas 2, Kato Ottio, Nene MacDonald tries; Ase Boas 4 goals) defeated Fiji 22 (Etuate Qionimacawa 3, Eloni Vunakece, tries; Sitiveni Moceidreke 2, Maurice Kennedy 1 goals) at Pirtek Stadium. Half-time: 16-8 Fiji. Sin bin: Justin Olam (PNG). Fiji Times