Full Time
3:00pm Sun October 22, 2023
Pacific Championship - Pacific Bowl - Santos National Football Stadium, Port Moresby / PNG - Crowd: 7001

Match Overview

A late try to Sunia Turuva has saved Fiji from an embarrassing upset, doing the minimum to win by 22-18 in an enthralling test match in Port Moresby.

The match opened in a frantic pace. Both nations were trying to find their bearings and it was Fiji who had the first scoring chance. Maika Sivo caused all sorts of problems down the left in the early goings, but just like in Australia he was let down by Waqa Blake who couldn't haul in the footy. Cook Islands managed some football down the end and the closest they got in the opening 15 was through quick hands down the right, this saw Alvin Maungatti taken metres short from the line. 
After 18 minutes and another mistake from Mikaele Ravalawa.  Esan Marsters took the ball to the line and beat some would be Fijian defence to score the first try of the afternoon. His brother Steven made no mistake for a 6-0 lead. 

Four minutes later following a penalty for an obstruction. Fiji continued to work down the left hand side where they had some earlier success. Blake went through a gap fending away Maungatti and streaking away before finding Sivo for the first of the afternoon for the Bati. Brandon Wakeham's kick from touch was waved away. 

Both sides had some chances to add to their scores. Cook Islands had the better of the footy and failed to take advantage of Kitione Kautoga's trip to the sin-bin. Justin Makirere was held up in a desperate Jahreem Bula tackle. Further chances from Fiji were close to giving them the lead on the half time break but the desperate Cook Islands defence held on for a 6-4 lead. 

Seven minutes after the break, Fiji made a big mistake which proved costly. Cook Islands create the second phase play. Esan Marsters breaks through creating second-phase play before offloading to Esom Ioka to score their second try. Fiji hit back off the back of a penalty and created some lovely play out the right hand side. Kurt Donoghoe went into space before linking up with Kautoga who found Bula who stood up the fullback to cross on his Fiji debut. Wakeham converted from in front and it was again a slender lead for the Cook Islands.

Despite both sides in scoring chances, they were both turned away by the video referee at a critical moment until 12 minutes to go. A short dropout wasn't taken care of by Fiji and it was a loose ball. Waqa Blake picked it up and scored for Fiji giving them their first lead of the afternoon by 16-12. Fiji failed to retain possession and it was again Esan Marsters providing a crash ball to the 18th man Isaiah Cooper-Tetevano to level the scores. Steven Marsters converted to retake the lead. Two minutes later, the lead was gone again when Sunia Turuva ran back against the grain and crashed over the top of the fullback to retake the lead by 22-18 and it's where the score remained at the end of 80 minutes. 

3. Esan Marsters

2. Jahream Bula

1. Sunia Turuva