Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Australia & New Zealand into inaugural Pacific Championships finals: Week two round-up

Ben Olawumi
Lachlan Lam, Maika Sivo, Daly Cherry-Evans, Ronaldo Mulitalo

Lachlan Lam (Papua New Guinea, top left), Maika Sivo (Fiji, top right), Daly Cherry-Evans (Australia, bottom left), Ronaldo Mulitalo (New Zealand, bottom right) - Alamy

With a week spare, the two Pacific Championship finals have now been locked in with Papua New Guinea to take on Fiji and Australia to face New Zealand.

Those two sets of teams will first square off this coming weekend in the last round of group games, but already know that they will be meeting again in a fortnight’s time for the inaugural Championships‘ finals following the results in week two.

Here’s how the action unfolded over the weekend just gone…

Papua New Guinea to take on Fiji in Pacific Bowl final

Following their big 46-10 win against the Cook Islands in week one, Papua New Guinea weren’t in action this weekend due to the format of the Championships with three-nation groups.

The Kumuls though saw their spot in the final booked by virtue of Fiji – playing the first of their two group matches – beating The Kuki’s 22-18 courtesy of young Penrith Panthers ace Sunia Turuva crossing for the winning try late on.

As a result, the Cook Islands have now played both of their group games and lost both, sitting 3rd with zero points while both Fiji and PNG already have two to their name.

Consequently, the only thing on the line when the pair clash in Port Moresby this weekend is who gets to top the group table.

Regardless, the same two nations will face off exactly a week later (November 5) at the same venue in the Pacific Bowl final, when a potential promotion up to the Pacific Cup for 2024 will be on the line thanks to the competition’s UEFA Nations League-like format.

Australia will face New Zealand in Pacific Cup final

It’s pretty much the same story in the ‘elite’ section of the Championships, with world champions Australia facing New Zealand both this weekend and next.

Mal Meninga’s side didn’t have to get out of first gear as they saw off Samoa 38-12 in week one in a rematch of last year’s World Cup final, with ‘Toa Samoa’ putting in a disappointing showing following their change in head coach from Matt Parish to Ben Gardiner.

Australia sat back in the weekend just gone and watched the Kiwis destroy Gardiner’s side, thumping them 50-0 in Auckland to seal Samoa’s exit from the competition with zero points from their two group games.

As in the Pacific Bowl, the ‘group winners’ tag will be all that’s at stake as the Kangaroos face New Zealand in Melbourne this coming weekend. Meninga’s side will then travel over to Hamilton for the Pacific Cup final on November 4, vying to become the first-ever winners of the Pacific Championships.

Samoa are expected to head to these shores this time next year to take on England in a test series, changing places with Tonga who will compete in the Southern Hemisphere’s Championships down under in 2024.

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