PNG Palais 15s feeling prepared for Fijiana test

The Papua New Guinea training in Fiji. Photo: Oceania Rugby

AFTER falling just short of a shock victory against Samoa, Papua New Guinea believe an extra few days preparation will give them a real chance at beating Fiji in the second round of the Oceania Women’s Rugby Championship this afternoon.

PNG opened the scoring and were leading the Manu Sina at half-time but three yellow cards proved costly as they were eventually overrun 56-45.

Coach Paul Joseph said the majority of his squad arrived in Fiji on the morning of their first match and played against Samoa after only a few hours sleep.

“They were surprised themselves but it’s all about wanting to play for the jersey, as always,” he said.

“Regardless of if you’re playing sevens or fifteens or tens it’s all about the jersey and we drove that into the girls’ mindset from the get-go that this was not a holiday trip and they were very privileged to be playing.

“It’s not a friendly game – it’s a test match for them – and that’s in the back of their heads to really go out and play, regardless of their level of fitness or any of that.”

Fiji have the recent edge on Papua New Guinea, winning 37-10 in the inaugural Oceania Women’s Championship in 2016.

But Paul Joseph said despite having a number of injury concerns, including sevens star Joanne Lagona, the Palais 15s are feeling a lot more prepared to face the hosts this afternoon.

“Spent the last couple of days doing work together with our structure, the way we want to play this next game against Fiji,” he said.

“Talking to the players we’ve made them aware we’ve raised the level and if there was a team that everyone is talking about it’s you girls and you’ve done wonders in the first game and had opportunities to even win the game. We are grateful for the break before the next game and we have worked hard.”

The Fijiana 15s outclassed Tonga 53-8 in the other first round match on Friday.

Tonga captain Va’iga Moimoi said Fiji came at them hard and fast and they are expecting something similar against the Manu Sina.

“We expect Samoa will come 100 percent at us due to the short gaming time. From our families it’s very good to hear all the support, especially from a small island. It encourages the girls to do better and push.”

The final round of matches will be held on Saturday.

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