Papua New Guinea, Tonga win Pacific Island matches in Sydney
SYDNEY (AP) — Winger Junior Rau scored two tries to lead Papua New Guinea to a 26-14 upset win over Fiji in a rugby league international on Saturday.
In a later match of the Pacific International doubleheader at Campbelltown Stadium in western Sydney, Tonga kept up its strong recent form with a seven-try, 38-22 win over Samoa. Tonga led 30-6 at halftime.
Despite giving up more than 500 games of National Rugby League experience to its rivals, Papua New Guinea led 26-4 at halftime and held on for the win.
With just six NRL players to Fiji’s 10, the Kumuls ran in four tries, with fullback Justin Olam scoring one and setting up another to complement Rau’s performance.
Tonga, which scored six first-half tries Saturday, beat New Zealand in the quarterfinals of the World Cup and lost 20-18 to England in the semifinals after having a last-minute try disallowed by the referee.
Before the match, Cronulla Sharks forward Andrew Fifita said he would play for Tonga for the rest of his career, foregoing tens of thousands of dollars if he had decided to play for Australia. Fifita was born in Sydney but has Tongan heritage.
Last year, Fifita played for Tonga at the Rugby League World Cup, when he was paid 500 Australian dollars ($372) per game. Local media said he could have made 20,000 Australian dollars ($14,880) per game if he had played for Australia.
“I’m Tonga for life,” Fifita told Australian Associated Press.