Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
The RLWC second round has commenced, with our Pasifika teams yet again putting on some stellar performances. After the previous rounds results, there were a lot of questions to be answered for most teams and players.
Kicking off the round was Fiji Bati, going up against Italy on Sunday. Coming off a huge thrashing by defending champions Australia last week, Fiji is hoping to get back into the winners circle and make their mark in the tournament.
Penrith Panther second-row forward Viliame Kikau was a standout for his team, as they breezed through a struggling Italian side, 60-4. Kikau opened the try scoring early in the 8th minute, and collected his second try in the 22nd minute.
Fiji was dominant throughout the entire game, running in a total of 10 tries to Italy’s one. Also collecting a double in the try scoring affair was powerhouse winger Maika Sivo. Fiji Bati will conclude their pool match fixtures against Scotland, with a possible quarter final spot.
On Monday, Toa Samoa faced Greece in their second pool game. A lot was riding on this game for Samoa, after a heavy defeat to England last week. Veteran Tim Lafai made a return to the Samoan team as injury replacement, making this his third World Cup tournament.
From the outset,Toa Samoa proved too strong for Greece, running in a total of 12 tries in the 72:4 win. Lafai made a strong return to the blue jersey, with two tries of his own. Young playmaker Jarome Luai was awarded man of the match, after a stellar halves combination with Chanel Harris Tavita.
Head coach Matt Parish will be hoping to repeat their winning efforts against France in the next round, as Samoa also hopes to secure a quarterfinal spot.
Mate Ma’a Tonga is the first Pacific team to secure a quarterfinal spot, after defeating Wales 32:6. The win came as their second win of the tournament after narrowly defeating PNG Kumuls last week.
Former Kangaroos winger Daniel Tupou featured heavily in the win, after scoring a hat trick of tries against a hopeless Welsh side. Tonga never looked in doubt for most of the game, having full control and execution of both halves.
Already securing first place in their pool, Tonga will play Cook Islands in their final round match in the following week. With a secured quarterfinal spot in their hands, Tonga will possibly be playing Samoa for an all Pacific finals matchup.
Concluding round 2 was the all Pacific matchup between Cook Islands and PNG Kumuls. The match was important for both teams, as they hoped to keep their hopes for a quarterfinal spot alive. The Kumuls were too powerful for their opponents, taking the win by 32-16.
Rodrick Tai managed to grab a double for his team, as they put in a total of 6 tries. Storm centre Justin Olam also touched down for his first try in the tournament. The win came in handy for the Kumuls, who came close to winning their first match against Tonga.
Cook Islands on the other hand have suffered their first loss of the tournament, with their final pool match against Tonga in the coming round. Kumuls hope to win in their final match against Wales, to gain their spot within the top 8 for quarterfinals.
View this post on Instagram