FIJI may have been crowned Oceania U19 champions following a 20-8 defeat of hosts Samoa at Apia Park, but Papua New Guinea also had cause to celebrate after qualifying for a second successive IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy with a 41-3 victory over Vanuatu.
Papua New Guinea had beaten the same opponents at the regional championship last year by a much greater margin – 84-0 – to secure a first appearance at the following year’s IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy, where they finished sixth overall with their “run everything” game plan resulting in some breath-taking tries in Kenya.
Papua New Guinea No.8 Joshua Posu was a constant trouble for the Vanuatu’s side, charging hard at their defence and gaining hard yards on numerous occasions.
His tireless work-rate was backed-up by his teammates as they tried to overcome a team hungry to cause a big upset at Apia Park.
In the end, for all their efforts and the part they played in entertaining the crowd, it was PNG who emerged victorious with fly-half Joel Wimbi, prop Fairi Fairi and flanker Chris Memani crossing for first half tries to send the Pukpuks lead 19-3 at half-time.
Vanuatu held out for 16 minutes in the second half, but tries from replacement Joel Sawong, Posu and two more for Memani to complete his hat-trick that saw PNG to victory and another chance to participate in the Junior World Rugby Trophy.