The stinging defence of David Mead and the flair of the Boas brothers have inspired PNG to its first win over Fiji, 24-22 at Pirtek Stadium. The Bati might have lost, but they unearthed yet another quality winger in the form of hat-trick hero Etuate Qionimacawa.
Mead rocks Fiji with man-of-the-match performance
David Mead said he had no hesitation in returning to the PNG side after spending the past two years playing for Country Origin.
It's a decision rugby league fans in Port Moresby are thankful for.
The Titans speedster ran for 161 metres and made two line breaks in his first international game since 2013, but it was his defensive work that stole all the headlines.
Mead produced tackles worthy of 'hit of the year' and 'try saver of the year' in the space of 13 minutes to keep his side in the game leading into half-time.
Sea Eagles winger Brayden Williame was the first victim, making a clean break before being met front on by Mead in a tackle that left both men dazed.
The Fijian centre was stopped in his tracks before falling in a heap onto the Parramatta turf courtesy of a shot Fox Sports Commentator Braith Anasta likened to being hit by a truck.
"Williame, he doesn't know what's hit him," Anasta said.
"He's hit a semi-trailer – no it's not a semi-trailer – it's David Mead."
Mead then swapped brute force for dogged determination to deny Fijian fullback Tyrone Phillips what would have been a certain 70-metre solo effort.
Phillips was in the clear and looked set to score, only for Mead to find energy he didn’t know he had to reel him in five metres out from the line, drag him to ground and somehow hold him up all in the one motion.
Given the Kumuls won by two points, it was a play that probably won them the game.
Poor completion rate costs Fiji
Fiji had their chances to get back into the game in the second half but either came up with a dropped ball or conceded a penalty to let PNG off the hook.
The Bati finished the game with a completion rate of just 63 per cent and were penalised eight times on the night.
Roosters cult hero and Fijian try scorer Eloni Vunakece bemoaned his side's lack of discipline when he spoke to NRL.com after the game.
"I think we only completed 25 per cent of sets in that second half," he said.
"I don't know if that's the right statistic but that's what it felt like. We shot ourselves in the foot by flicking little passes and they capitalised on that to get the win."
Boas constrict Fiji
David Mead might have been named man of the match but the Boas brothers can't have been far behind. Halfback Watson Boas scored a try in each half while his brother Ase Boas nailed four goals to guide his home by two points.
The PNG halves controlled the game with a series of impressive long kicks that kept turning the big Fiji forwards around.
It was an incredible night for Watson as he got to celebrate his PNG debut alongside his older brother.
"We've been playing throughout our childhood grades together up until now so it's normal to us but it's really special for our family," he said.
"We normally play in the halves for the SP Hunters in the Intrust Cup but for us to play a Test match together is really special."
Fiji produces yet another quality winger
Akuila Uate was meant to be the headline act on the flanks for Fiji on Saturday night, but he was upstaged by his teammate on the other side of the field who grabbed a hat-trick on his international debut.
Etuate Qionimacawa scored two tries late in the first half and crossed for his third five minutes from full time to set up a grandstand finish.
His first two efforts came on the back of pinpoint kicks from Fijian five-eighth Sitiveni Moceidreke; although Qionimacawa has to take the bulk of the credit for his first four pointer after reeling in the kick and slamming it down all in one motion.
A lot of the talk leading into the game was about Semi Radradra. It appears Fiji will do just fine without him.
Could we see a PNG team in the NRL one day?
Logistically and financially speaking it will be a challenge, but the PNG players are certainly keen on the idea.
PNG already has a team in Queensland's Intrust Super Cup after joining the competition in 2014. They have already had plenty of success, finishing in second spot on the ladder last season and going on to make the preliminary final.
Halfback Watson Boas told NRL.com that the players would handle the step up to first grade because they already have such a tight bond.
"I think if they wanted us to have a team in the NRL then we would make it," he said.
"We know each other and we speak the same language to each other so it will be easy for us to play in a big stage like that."
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Downer Rugby League 9s World Cup
- PNG Kumuls 0 Australia 26
- PNG Kumuls 18 New Zealand Kiwis 18
- PNG Kumuls 23 USA Tomahawks 10
Pacific Test Results
201 9 - PNG Kumuls 28 Great Britain Lions 10
2019 - Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 20
2019 - PNG Kumls 6 Samoa 24
2018 - PNG Kumuls 26 Fiji Bati 14
2017 - PNG Kumuls 32 Cook Islands 22
2016 - PNG Kumuls 24 Fiji Bati 22
2015- Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 22
World Cup Results
Round 1 : PNG Kumuls 50 Wales 6
Round 2: PNG Kumuls 14 Ireland 6
Round 3 PNG Kumuls 64 USA 0
Quarter Finals : PNG Kumuls 6 England 36