Fiji Bati debutant Jason Qareqare scored a try as the Fijians thumped the Papua New Guinea Kumuls 43-16 in their second Pacific Championship match in Port Moresby today.
The homeside shed first blood in the third minute when halfback Lachlan Lam shifted the ball left to find fan favourite Alex Johnston as he dummied his way to the try line Rhyse Martin failed to convert.
Fiji Bati hit back in the 13th minute when Kurt Donoghoe got first touch of a loose ball in the in goal and Wakeham slotted the conversion for a 6-4 lead.
The Bati got the ball rolling again on the back of several strong carries and Melbourne Storm forward Tui Kamikamica capitalised on the field position as he carried several Kumuls over the line to score and Wakeham converted.
The Kumuls were reduced to 12 players when Keven Appo was sent to the bin for a dangerous tackle and the Bati went further ahead in the 33rd minute after some quick hands from Donoghue and Wakeham opened up the defence for Parramatta Eels centre Waqa Blake, who found Donoghue in support to grab his second.
Wakeham converted and hit a field goal in between the sticks on the buzzer to hand the Bati a 19-4 lead at the break.
Early in the second half, Parramatta star Maika Sivo dominated proceedings finishing off a left side shift in the corner before intercepting a loose offload and going the length of the field two minutes later to extend the Bati’s lead 29-4.
Errors and fatigue continued to haunt the Kumuls with Lam penalised for obstruction on their line and the Bati went further ahead on the next set, with Caleb Navale powering over from close for his first Test try.
Despite a 30-point deficit, the Kumuls refused to lie down and centre Benji Kot brought the crowd to their feet in the 62nd minute after powering onto a short ball from Johnston out of dummy half.
This time Bati gave an immediate response through Qareqare when he beautifully caught a wide pass from Kamikamica and sliced through the Kumuls defence to get his first international try for his birth country.
Wakeham knocked the conversion and kicked a penalty to extend Bati’s lead to 43-10.
Just three minutes to full time, prop Epel Kapinias managed to score a consolation try for PNG and Martin converted.
The Kumuls and Bati will meet again next Sunday to battle it out for the Pacific Cup final at 5pm in Port Moresby.