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PNG Kumuls claim Pacific Championship Bowl following 32 - 12 win over Fiji Bati

 PAPUA New Guinea Kumuls bounced back from last week’s loss as they beat Fiji Bati 32-12 to claim the Pacific Championship Bowl at Santos National Football Stadium yesterday.

North Queensland Cowboys winger Robert Derby starred for his team with a try double while hooker Edwin Ipape who muscled his way over for the first try terrorised the Bati from dummy-half earning the man-of-the-match award in his side’s five-try effort.

A dominant performance by Kumuls in the first half set the stage for the win as coach Justin Holbrook’s side piled on four unanswered tries, all converted by Martin, as well as a penalty goal for a 26-0 lead at the break.

Ipape scored first in the 15th minute as he beat five Fiji players to score. The Kumuls’ left edge combination of Lachlan Lam, linking up with Martin and Alex Johnston produced Derby’s double over the next 15 minutes before Johnston scored one on the stroke of half-time capping off a Zac Laybutt break.

Kumuls were on the attack early in the second-half but they missed their opportunities with a couple of errors allowing the Bati score their first try through centre Waqa Blake.

The Kyle Laybutt-captained side were under pressure when the Bati seemed to find their rhythm in the second-half as Blake completed his double with 12 minutes remaining. Back-to-back conversions from halfback Brandon Wakeham saw Bati reduced the margin to 14 as they trailed 12-26.

The Kumuls found themselves a man down after front-rower Epel Kapinias founding himself in the bin for punching Bati back-rower Taane Milne after the South Sydney Rabbitohs back clipped Kumuls centre Rodrick Tai high causing a melee in-goal. However Kapinias had the last laugh when he late in the match to seal things.

Holbrook said after that game it was a great feeling to win the Bowl for the country. “It’s a really good win for the players, the Kumuls staff and the whole country,” Holbrook said.

“It was a hard week to pick the side but I knew Edwin Ipape would bounce back from last week, Liam Horne was great through the middle and Judah Rimbu all had impact in the game.

“Everyone put on a great performance. I think some of these players deserve an opportunity in the NRL. Players like Kyle Laybutt is an outstanding player and others and they deserve opportunities and I hope they get them.

“We enjoyed the whole campaign and we bounced back exactly the way we wanted.”

The National / Rugby Insights

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