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Fijiana become first Oceania champions

Fiji created history by winning the first official Oceania test championship when they beat the PNG 37-10 at the ANZ Stadium in Laucala, Bay, Suva on Saturday.

Report by Fiji Times

The Fijiana outscored PNG six tries to two to win and progress through to the next qualifying round for the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup to be held in Hong Kong.

The game started slow, as the two untested teams struggled to brush off any cobwebs and uncertainty leading into the game. As it wore on, the Fijians pounded away at the determined PNG Palais XV defence which at first valiantly fended off the persistent attackers.

Fiji opened its account with a penalty to flyhalf Merewalesi Rokouono followed by their first try through Litiana Lawedrau. The Lailanie Burnes-captained side gradually found its rhythm but it was quickly silenced when lanky opposition fullblack Joanne Lagona ran in a scintillating try to narrow the margin 8-5. Fiji responded a few minutes later through a bulldozing run from Esiteri Bulikiobo.

They went to the break leading 13-5. The PNG XV scored first in the second half and narrowing the difference to a three-point ball game. Fiji ran in a couple more tries through their super subs who didn't give any breathing space to their counterparts.

Former Flying Fijian and Fiji Women's 15s had coach Seremaia Bai said his players went in with a mission and they accomplished it.

"We stuck to what we talked about and in the end it paid off for us," Bai said. He said the wet weather experienced at the ANZ Stadium during the game did not dampen their spirited and determined quest.

Speaking of his super subs, Bai said: "That just shows the way we are together as a team, we have common goal, whether you are in the starting fifteens, on the substitutes' bench, we all just want to contribute to a common cause and achieve our goal."

PNG XV captain Maragaret Naua said it had been a huge experience for them and she commended her players for not giving up until the final whistle. She said she was really happy for her players for making the historic encounter with Fiji Women's 15s a memorable one with their never-say-die attitude. Naua said some of their players would be staying back to take part in the Oceania 7s tournament next week