Full Time
4:00pm Sun November 5, 2023
Pacific Championship - Pacific Bowl - Santos National Football Stadium, Port Moresby / PNG

Match Overview

The Papua New Guinea Kumuls have wiped away a heavy loss against Fiji last week to take out the Pacific Bowl final with a 32-12 win over the Fijians thanks to a 26-0 first half.

The Kumuls had a strong breeze at their back and despite a messy start where both sides struggled to hold the ball. It was actually Fiji who got the first chance for points when they scooped up a loose ball to pick it up and race away. They had the effort knocked back because it was actually a Fijian touch that meant the ball was loose.

Just a few minutes later the Kumuls took advantage of some strong field position as they Edwin Ipape saw the Fijian defence on the backfoot and he took off out of dummy half on the last tackle to score.

A quick fire double to Robert Derby as he scored two in the left corner both times through some excellent combination play between Alex Johnston and Rhyse Martin to put their winger in almost untouched.

Rhyse Martin added a penalty goal just after the half-hour mark to extend the lead out to 20-0.

On the stroke of half-time, Zac Laybutt found space through the middle of the Fijian defence before finding Alex Johnston to score untouched under the sticks. Rhyse Martin's conversion from in front gave the PNG side a 26-0 lead.

The second half was a bit of a Dog's breakfast with neither side really taking too much advantage of possession as the Fijians struggled to take advantage of the amount of ball they had.

The Fijians did take advantage early in the half when Waqa Blake cleaned up a grubber kick that bounced awkwardly but thankfully didn't take a hand before Blake got there to score. Things looked good and the comeback looked on as Maika Sivo got over the line but he absolutely bombed it when going over the line he somehow dropped the ball.

The game never really found a rhythm as the Kumuls went down to 12 men after Epel Kapinias was sent to the sin bin for throwing a punch as things got heated. Waqa Blake soon added a second try to his tally when the Fijians were able to take advantage of the numerical advantage.

Fiji themselves soon went down to 12 men to finish the game when Taane Milne was sent to the bin for a dangerous tackle. The two sides played 12-on-12 for 60 seconds and it was only 20 seconds after Epel Kapinias came back on that the big man got over for his try.

The win means that the Kumuls take out the Pacific Bowl as Fiji will be disappointed that they could not replicate their big win from last week.