June 26, 2022
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PNG Kumuls beat Fiji Bati in Pac Test

The Papua New Guinea Kumuls outclassed the Vodafone Fiji Bati 24-14 during their Pacific Test at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.

It was the perfect send-off for Kumuls skipper David Mead who scored a try in the win to mark his retirement from international rugby league.

The Bati were hamstrung early, only three minutes in, when debtutant second rower Lamar Manuel-Liolevave went to low in a tackle resulting in him being sent off for a concussion test bringing in Kaylen Miller for an early first cap.

Taane Milne almost crosses over for the Bati's first try crashing through a number of tacklers but lost the ball in the 10th minute.

The Bati kept applying the pressure and after two resets, Captain Kevin Naiqama kicked the ball through with Kumul second rower Daniel Russell misjudging the bounce for Naiqama to regather and dot down with Masima adding the conversion in the 15th minute.

Winger Mikaele Ravalawa galloped away after breaking through the Kumuls defence from their 20 metre line, but a last offload failed to connect, a minute later.

The Kumuls began to up the tempo and made their defence come through a number of big hits on some of the more smaller Fijian runners and centre Justin Olam found an overlap and raced past two would be tackers to find his pivot Lachlan Lam who put the ball down in the try zone with Kyle Laybutt converting to level the scores in the 27th minute.

Olam continued to be the go to man for the Kumuls in attack and brought his valuable experience into play with the backing of his Skipper Mead.

The Kumuls looked the sharper side as the half-time closed In and proved this with their second try through forward McKenzie Yei who showed his strength to crash over and take the lead with Laybutt adding the two points.

PNG led 12-6 at halftime.

The Kumuls continued their offensive after the break, sniffing blood in the water.

They started an attack phase from halfway and surged to the 30 metre line through Yei but they got held up on the line by the Bati defence.

The Bati had a chance and spun the ball outwide finding Ravalawa but he was caught just short in the 48th minute before Milne finally crossed over for the side's second try, after being denied earlier.

 Masima missed the crucial conversion that would have levelled the points with 56 minutes gone.

The Bati looked to pick up the tempo with the clock racing down to less than 15 minutes, but the relentless PNG defence kept them at bay.

The Kumuls extended their lead, with a loose tackle in midfield by the Bati allowing dummy half Wartovo Puara to dancing through and race down and find his skipper who dived under the sticks to score with Laybutt adding the conversion to give them an eight point lead with 11 minutes to go.

Ravalawa carried hard inside the 10 metres and quickly set up Pio Seci in the 73rd minute, only to be denied in the in goal area.

The Kumuls went on attacking mode again with some hard running from Epel Kapinas finding Lam who slipped through the slow defence to score his second try of the night with Laybutt converting from 20 metres out to the left  in the 76th minute.

The Bati played to the last whistle and were paid off with a consolation try with co-captain Viliame Kikau hacking the ball through with Turuva chasing hard to down the ball down just before it crossed the dead ball line.

Milne put his conversion away from  the sticks to end the game.

The teams:

PNG Kumuls- 1. Alex Johnston 2. Robert Derby 3. David Mead 4. Justin Olam 5. Terry Wapi 6. Kyle Laybutt 7. Lachlan Lam 8. Epel Kapinias 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Sylvester Namo 11. Daniel Russell 12.Nixon Putt 13. Jacob Alick 14. Liam Horne 15. Emmanuel Waine 16. McKenzie Yei 17. Dilbert Isaac 18.Junior Rop.

Fiji Bati- 1.Sunia Turuva 2.Mikaele Ravalawa 3.Semi Valemei 4.Waqa Blake 5.Maika Sivo 6.Kevin Naiqama 7.Nautu'a Masima 8.Joseph Ratuvakacereivalu 9.Penioni Tagituimua 10.Tui Kamikamica 11.Viliame Kikau 16.Lamar Manuel-Liolevave 13.Taane Milne 14.Isaac Lumelume 15.Pio Seci 17.Kaylen Miller 18.Ralulu Nasoki 22.Waqasaqa Qiolevu.

By Noa Biudole

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