Pacific Championship

Clinical Kiwis stun Kangaroos in historic upset

A 12-0 scoreline had the New Zealand faithful daring to dream at halftime and the fairytale final continued as the Kiwis ran in another 18 unanswered points to hand the Kangaroos their heaviest ever defeat.

Seven days after going down to their Tasman rivals 36-18 in Melbourne, Michael Maguire's side were all class with halves Jahrome Hughes and Dylan Brown steering the ship and wingers Ronaldo Mulitalo and Jamayne Isaako dazzling on the edges.

Younger Laybutt looking to better his game

However, his main focus is on this Sunday’s Bowl final against Fiji. However, he was not happy with his form last week. 

He admitted the Kumuls did not play according to plan adding ill-discipline and poor execution let them down.

Being the youngest sibling of Kumuls Captain Kyle Laybutt, Zac is embracing this opportunity of playing alongside his big brother and adapting well to the PNG culture.

Bati party in PNG with big win over Kumuls

With Maika Sivo and Kurt Donoghue both claiming a double at Santos National Football Stadium, the Bati blew the game open early in the piece with the Kumuls unable to match the visitor's speed and class in attack. 

However, the Kumuls refused to lie down despite the scoreline, orchestrating two tries late in the second half to keep the passionate PNG faithful on their feet.

The Kumuls opened their account in the third minute when halfback Lachlan Lam shifted the ball left to find fan favourite Alex Johnston who threw a dummy to split the Bati defence close to the line.

Collins at the double as Kangaroos down Kiwis

Australia never trailed in the contest and after an opening 21 minutes in which the match ebbed and flowed, they always enjoyed a lead on the scoreboard, with a double from front-rower Lindsay Collins and the accurate boot of returning winger Valentine Holmes doing much of the damage at AAMI Park. 

While Australia were already 12-6 up when he entered the field in the 27th minute, Harry Grant was the man who kicked the Kangaroos up a notch when the game sat in the balance, while fellow Queenslander Patrick Carrigan was big off the bench too, carrying 16 times for 145 metres. 

Marape farewells Aitu

Before they departed PNG, Prime Minister James Marape held a formal dinner on Sunday, October 22, and thanked them for their time in PNG and at the same time welcomed Fiji in the country who is set to play PNG LNG Kumuls next weekend at the Santos National Football Stadium.

Jamayne man for New Zealand as Kiwis deliver statement win

Named the Ken Irvine Medallist following his 24 tries during the Telstra Premiership season, Isaako's 25th and 26th tries of 2023 gave Michael Maguire's side a commanding early lead that they wouldn't look back from, running away with the contest to secure their first shut-out win on home soil in over two decades.

Fiji debutant realises dream

Whippy made headlines back in 2020 when a video was posted of the then Raiders Jersey Flegg player putting his teammates to shame in the viral gym challenge: The Thor Hammer Barbell challenge.

Since then, the Fijian forward has spent time in the Rabbitohs development system and most recently featured at prop for the Ipswich Jets in the Hostplus Cup.

A naturally gifted athlete, having previously represented Fiji in both swimming and athletics.

Moana to match Orchids

Moana young gun Chantay Kiria-Ratu will return to the international stage a household name after leading a breakout season in the Gold Coast and is set to be reunited alongside Sharks star Kiana Takairangi and Raiders powerhouse prop Kerehitina Matua.

With five players named to make their Moana debut, the Cook Islands are set to unveil plenty of fresh faces and new talent as they look to make a statement on the international stage after missing last year's World Cup finals.

Bati ready to fire

Kikau and Koroisau are very important players and their absence will prove critical for the side. However, Batis hooker, Penioni Tagituimua, is confident the team will do well.

Tagituimua said, ‘it is a big loss knowing that Api Koroisau and Villiami Kikau all those players missing the team but it still feels the same. It’s a good feeling knowing some young blocks coming in, especially for the long run.”

Olam game time in doubt

Holbrook said Olam is nursing an injury and is likely to sit out the remainder of the Pacific championship campaign. However, the boys from England are expected to be available for the match against Fiji Bati on October 29.

Holbrook said, “I’d love Justin to be playing as he wants to play but at the moment he's doing his rehab down in Melbourne when he picked up the injury in his last game.”