Almanac Rugby League – The Pacific Championships Week 2: Double headers will bring in the crowds


For general use



Week 1 of the Championships went pretty much to script as far as results were concerned and good crowds were treated to some top class footy. Several of the usual suspects showed once again why they’re the cream of the crop while an array of up and coming talent made their mark at this level.


In the women’s tournament the Jillaroos and Ferns played their usual hard fought game with the initial burst of the Australians providing enough of a buffer to hold on against a dogged effort by New Zealand in the second half. That Upton girl just can’t stop putting in top shelf performances. She may not have the most fluent or graceful style in the game but she’s always in the right spot to run on to a pass or sufficiently spatially aware to sniff out a gap. Then it’s a case of ‘shut the gate’. Veteran Ali Brigginshaw was also at her scheming best. Mele Hufanga was the standout for the Ferns with her robust, bullocking play. Fetu Samoa also came out firing to leave Fiji Balikula in their wake and record a strong 26-12 result. Annetta Nu’uausala was dominant up front, reminding us of her talent after a modest season in the NRLW.


In the men’s competition, Payne Haas and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui led from the front as the Kangaroos ran over Toa Samoa by 38-12. Debut centres Kotoni Staggs and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow had a field day as they announced their arrival on the big stage. Old heads such as James Tedesco, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Murray provided the experience and class to steady and guide a new-look side around the park. Toa Samoa were well served by Junior Paulo and Luciano Leilua but their shining lights were Sualauvi Faalogo and Murray Taulagi. Look for Faalogo to shine at the Storm next year while Taulagi showed why he’s already playing at State of Origin level. In the other match, the Kumuls were far too strong for Cook Islands Aitu with Nene Macdonald (4 tries) and Zac Laybutt having field days.


Week 2:

Eden Park in Auckland hosts a double header on Saturday afternoon with the Kiwi Ferns taking on Mate Ma’a Tonga to get things underway at 1.45pm. The Ferns have made a few positional changes this week with Apii Nicholls surprisingly not in the top 17. Her replacement is Shanice Parker. Raecene McGregor is the heart of this side with Georgia Hale heading the forward pack. Leading the way for Tonga will be NSW Origin player Tiana Penitani with useful back-up coming from NRLW players Vanessa Foliaki and China Polata. I’m inclined to go with the Ferns on the basis that they had a good hitout last weekend and will come into this one better prepared. But it should be a cracker.


Then the Kiwis take on Toa Samoa from 4.00pm in what should be a massive clash if both sides play to their strength on paper. The Kiwis will be fresh and rearing to go after a few weeks’ break. They’re strong up front with James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Joseph Tapine leading the forwards with Nelson Asofa-Solomona to come off the bench. The backs look slick with Jahrome Hughes and Dylan Brown looking to launch the likes of Joey Manu, Jamayne Isaako and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in attack. Toa Samoa showed some good signs last week against Australia and will be better for the run. It will be interesting to see if young Faalogo can back up last week’s top effort. Somehow I think the Kiwis will have too much class and win comfortably.


On Sunday all eyes will be on Port Moresby for another double header. The PNG Orchids will host Cook Islands Moana at 1.45pm to start things off. Elsie Albert returns for the Orchids who also boast Essay Banu and Jessikah Reeves from the Cowboys’ NRLW side. Cook Islands feature Raiders NRLW player Kere Matua as well as experienced former Kiwis Tory Arakua and Kiana Takairangi. The match provides an opportunity for all players to show their capabilities with possible NRLW opportunities there for the taking. I favour the Orchids to take this one out.


Fiji Bati play Cook Islands Aitu at 4.00pm to round out the weekend’s matches. Fiji has an impressive backline that includes Maika Sivo, Sunia Turuva, Waqa Blake and Mikaela Ravalawa, all experienced NRL players. Tui Kamikamica leads their pack. Cook Islands look good up front with Davvy Moale and Zane Tetevano providing the experience while veteran Brad Takairangi, Esan Marsters and young gun Kayal Iro stand out in the backs.  Cook Islands will compete but I expect the Bati to be well ahead at the final siren.


All times listed are AEDT.


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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A loyal Queenslander, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. Enjoys travel, coffee and cake, reading, and has been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. One of Footy Almanac's online editors who enjoys the occasional editing opportunity to assist aspiring writers.


  1. Thanks for this IJH, just trying to catch up with the games now (more sport than you could shake a stick at going on at the moment) – love the theme, but think the men’s format could do with a bit of a touch up. Surely PNG could be a better matchup for Australian or NZ than Samoa at the moment? I know it’s based on rankings and different venues, but with such a small pool of teams, a bit of crossover could come into it for the third edition?

    As for the women, I saw the highlights of PNG’s win over Cook Islands. The hometown girls were strong but the opponents impressive in their bravery and late game heroics…not least Chantay Kiria-Ratu’s ‘150 to 1’ conversion

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