Fiji celebrated the Pacific Test double-header with a big win over Lebanon at Leichhardt Oval.
A brilliant first half ensured a comfortable Pacific Test win for Fiji. Tui Kamikamica, Suliasi Vunivalu (two tries), Maika Sivo, Viliame Kikau and Brandon Wakeham scored to give Bati a 34-4 halftime lead. Wakeham – an emerging Canterbury-Bankstown halfback – was sensational, with five first half goals, a try and fantastic lead up work for Fiji’s other tries.
Sivo continued the carnage early in the second half before Lebanon finally showed some fight, with two tries to Abbas Miski.
Fiji regained their ascendancy with a double to Jayson Bukuya (Fiji’s third multiple try scorer of the night) and a try to Joe Lovodua.
There was a bit of levity after Bukuya’s second try – the last try of the game – with Robbie Farah jokingly kicking the conversion, before the actual conversion was successfully taken by Junior Roqica.
Wakeham Seizes his Opportunity
Canterbury’s Brandon Wakeham had an amazing game, scoring 20 points (8 goals and a try), beating Lote Tuqiri’s 18 against Russia in the 2000 World Cup. Wakeham’s performance showed why the Pacific Tests are so important: young players earning an opportunity to play Test football, and excelling.
Lebanon’s Disruption Hurts
Lebanon didn’t have an ideal lead up to this Pacific Test, missing Mitchell Moses, Alex Twal, Adam Douehi, and Josh Mansour. Robbie Farah – a passionate Lebanon man – wasn’t happy, calling the absent players ‘disrespectful’. He also criticised the Lebanon Rugby League Federation, with players boycotting the Lebanon domestic league due to a dispute with the LRLF. The disrupted preparation explained their poor first half, though they showed some fight after halftime. Hopefully they’ll be a fixture in future Pacific Tests, leading to the 2021 World Cup.
Leichhardt loves the Pacific Tests
With the old suburban grounds gradually being superseded by big stadiums (Suncorp Stadium, Homebush, Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium, a possible new stadium in Canberra), it’s important that smaller grounds get quality footy. Leichhardt is the perfect place for Pacific Tests – big enough to pack the ground and provide amazing atmosphere. It didn’t hurt that crowd favourite Robbie Farah was playing too.
The Men in Black
While we’re used to seeing Fiji wear white during previous Tests, they resembled the almost invincible All Blacks in a full black jersey. Not only did it look great, but it was a fine contrast to Lebanon’s green, red and white strip. It’s sure to be a popular buy for Bati fans.
FIJI BATI 58
Tries: Suliasi Vunivalu (2), Maika Sivo (2), Jayson Bukuya (2), Tui Kamikamica, Viliame Kikau, Brandon Wakeham, Joe Lovodua.
Goals: Brandon Wakeham 8/9, Junior Roqica 1/1
LEBANON CEDARS 14
Tries: Abbas Miski (2), Michael Lichaa.
Goals: Bilal Maarbani 1/2, Reece Robinson 0/1
Fiji Bata: 1 Marcelo Montoya, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Isaac Lumelume, 4 Mikaele Ravalawa, 5 Maika Sivo, 6 Sitiveni Moceidreke, 7 Brandon Wakeham, 8 Tui Kamikamica, 9 Joe Lovodua, 10 Korbin Sims, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Ta’ane Milne, 13 Jayson Bukuya. Interchange: 14 D’Rhys Miller, 15 Salesi Faing’a, 16 Junior Roqica, 17 Penioni Tagituimua.
Lebanon Cedars: 1 Anthony Layoun, 2 Jayden El-Jalkh, 3 Bilal Maarbani, 4 Allan Lockwood, 5 Abbas Miski, 6 Reece Robinson, 7 Robbie Farah, 8 Kayne Kalache, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 Tim Mannah, 11 Ahmad Ellaz, 12 Elie El-Zakhem, 13 James Roumanos. Interchange: 14, Jacob Kiraz, 15 Jalal Bazzaz, 16, Toufic El Hajj, 17 Nick Kassis.