The Fiji Bati have kick started their two Test series against the Papua New Guinea Kumuls in impressive style, running out 26 – 12 winners at Mount Hagen Showground.
In front of a capacity crowd in the PNG Highlands, the Bati came back from an 8 – 4 deficit at half time to run in three tries to one in the second half to record only their second ever victory against the Kumuls.
Bolstered with several NRL players, the Bati were were determined to start the match strongly and couldn’t have asked for a better start when Nadera Panthers player, Kitione Rasotale burst across the line in the 11th minute.
Unfortunately for the visitors however, the Kumuls hit back quickly through Four Nations representatives Jessie-Joe Parker and Glen Nami to setup a 8 – 4 lead at the break, dominating the rest of the half in front of the vocal crowd.
Despite the strong PNG performance in the first half, the rest of the match belonged to the Bati, with the visitors running in four tries to one, to secure victory.
Thrilled by the win, Fijian national coach, Jo Rabele told the Fiji Times that teamwork played a major part in their victory.
He thanked technical advisor Rick Stone adding the Newcastle Knights assistant coach's valuable advices made the difference to the side yesterday.
Rabele said Stone was "like an angle sent by God" to the team.
"We had prepared well in Fiji with our local boys and the overseas-based players, which joined us here, blended well with the team."
"The players fired up on the day and they played with all their strength against the Kumuls. We thank God because we know this victory was only possible though Him.
"We also thank all the coaching staff and players for their hard work and not forgetting the fans back in Fiji for their prayers."
Rabele said the team played the five key goals, set by the coaching staff, well.
The two teams will now travel to Port Moresby for the second Test this Sunday at Lloyd Robinson Oval.
Tries: Kitione Rasotale, Jone Wesele, Sisa Waqa, Taqele Naiyarovoro, Paula Rokolati
Goals: Henry Raiwalui 3 from 6
Papua New Guinea Kumuls:
Tries: Jessie-Joe Parker 2, Glen Nami