Lachlan Lam played a starring role in the halves alongside Kyle Laybutt to inspire Papua New Guinea to an 24-14 victory over Fiji in a thrilling Pacific test.
David Mead played his final test match for his native Papua New Guinea before hanging up his boots from international duty. Lam, son of Kumuls legend Adrian, started in the halves alongside Laybutt.
Former St Helens favourite Kevin Naiqama captained Fiji in his 20th game for his country. Fiji’s backline was full of NRL talent, including the likes of Mikaele Ravalawa, Semi Valemei, Waqa Blake and Maika Sivo.
Fiji drew first blood in the 15th minute. Naiqama chased down his own grubber to open the scoring, with Nautu’a Masima converting.
Papua New Guinea scored a terrific try midway through the first half when a break from Justin Olam found the supporting Lam who raced over. Laybutt added the extras.
The Kumuls took a 12-6 lead into the half-time interval thanks to a bulldozing charge from McKenzie Yei just before the hooter sounded.
Laybutt was a menace with the ball in hand all game. The playmaker thought he’d scored in the 50th minute but it was ruled out by the video referee for double movement.
Fiji didn’t lie down and they came back into the game when a grubber from Taane Milne found hot prospect Sunia Turuva. Masima missed his conversion attempt, and they trailed 12-10 with 25 minutes left.
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But Stanley Tepend’s Kumuls clicked into another game in the final quarter. A cheeky show and go from Lam saw him break the line and assist the supporting Mead. Laybutt’s conversion put his side 18-10 in front.
Lachlan Lam seals the win for PNG
And Lam capped a brilliant performance and sealed the win for PNG five minutes from time. He raced onto an inside grubber from Olam to score.
Turuva got his second as the final hooter sounded but it would only prove to be a consolation try as Papua New Guinea finished 24-14 winners in Sydney.
Papua New Guinea: Johnston; Derby, Mead, Olam, Wane; Laybutt, Lam; Kapinias, Puara, Namo, Russell, Putt, Alick. Subs: Horne, Waine, Yei, Issac.
Tries: Lam, Yei, Mead, Lam Goals: Laybutt 4
Fiji: Turuva; Ravalawa, Valemei, Blake, Sivo; Naiqama, Masima; Ratuvakacerivalu, Tagituimua, Kamikamica, Kikau, Manuel-Liolevave, Milne. Subs: Lumelume, Seci, Miller, Nasoki.
Tries: Naiqama, Turuva (2) Goals: Masima 1