The Bati head into this Saturday's Oceania Cup Test against the Kumuls brimming with confidence after a stunning demolition of Samoa in Auckland last weekend.

This will be the Kumuls' first Test since a mid-year loss to Samoa, though they had some bright moments in the recent World Cup 9s with a convincing win over USA and a one-point loss to the Kiwis.

They are unfortunately understrength with an already-limited number of NRL players from which to choose trimmed further with skipper James Segeyaro currently fighting a provisional ASADA ban and injury to Kurt Baptiste. The likes of Justin Olam, Rhyse Martin, Kyle Laybutt and Watson Boas will be crucial to the team's hopes.

Match: Fiji v Papua New Guinea

Round 4 -

Full Time
Fiji

Home Team

Fiji

Scored 22 points
Papua New Guinea

Away Team

Papua New Guinea

Scored 20 points

Venue: Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • KAYO
  • GEM

The Rundown

Team News

Fiji Bati: Parramatta star Maika Sivo is back on the wing after he was suspended for last week's win over Samoa. Isaac Lumelume has made way for the Eels speedster in the side's only change. The Bati say they're unlikely to change their line-up for game day.

PNG Kumuls: The Kumuls have seven changes from the mid-year test loss to Samoa including Rabbitohs star Alex Johnston lining up at fullback, Justin Olam in at centre, Watson Boas into the halves and the return of veteran Stargroth Amean on the bench. PNG are set to be as per program.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Fiji is number 1 Siti Moceidreke
    Fullback for Papua New Guinea is number 1 Alex Johnston
  • Winger for Fiji is number 2 Maika Sivo
    Winger for Papua New Guinea is number 2 Edene Gebbie
  • Centre for Fiji is number 3 Taane Milne
    Centre for Papua New Guinea is number 3 Dan Russell
  • Centre for Fiji is number 4 Brayden Wiliame
    Centre for Papua New Guinea is number 4 Justin Olam
  • Winger for Fiji is number 5 Suliasi Vunivalu
    Winger for Papua New Guinea is number 5 Terry Wapi
  • Five-Eighth for Fiji is number 6 Kevin Naiqama
    Five-Eighth for Papua New Guinea is number 6 Kyle Laybutt
  • Halfback for Fiji is number 7 Brandon Wakeham
    Halfback for Papua New Guinea is number 7 Watson Boas

Forwards

  • Prop for Fiji is number 8 Kane Evans
    Prop for Papua New Guinea is number 8 Wellington Albert
  • Hooker for Fiji is number 9 Joe Lovodua
    Hooker for Papua New Guinea is number 9 Wartovo Puara
  • Prop for Fiji is number 10 Tui Kamikamica
    Prop for Papua New Guinea is number 10 Luke Page
  • 2nd Row for Fiji is number 11 Viliame Kikau
    2nd Row for Papua New Guinea is number 11 Nixon Putt
  • 2nd Row for Fiji is number 12 Ben Nakubuwai
    2nd Row for Papua New Guinea is number 12 Rhyse Martin
  • Lock for Fiji is number 13 D'Rhys Miller
    Lock for Papua New Guinea is number 13 Moses Meninga

Interchange

  • Interchange for Fiji is number 14 Lamar Liolevave
    Interchange for Papua New Guinea is number 14 Edwin Ipape
  • Interchange for Fiji is number 15 Joseph Ratuvakacereivalu
    Interchange for Papua New Guinea is number 15 Stanton Albert
  • Interchange for Fiji is number 18 King Vuniyayawa
    Interchange for Papua New Guinea is number 16 Enock Maki
  • Interchange for Fiji is number 19 Penioni Tagituimua
    Interchange for Papua New Guinea is number 17 Stargroth Amean

Key match-up

Viliame Kikau v Rhyse Martin. Kikau was a force of nature against Toa Samoa, winding up on that left edge, crashing over for two tries and offloading at will. Martin is arguably the best-credentialled player available to PNG along with Storm centre Justin Olam and will have a huge task in the pack regardless of where he plays but particularly if he lines up as expected on the right edge marking Kikau. A rugged ball runner with a big motor, he will need to provide plenty of starch against an energetic Bati pack.

For Fiji to win

Bottle whatever they had last week and pull it out again. Consistency hasn't historically been Fiji's greatest asset at the top level, with massive win over minnows sprinkled with big losses to higher-ranked nations as well as the odd impressive upset. They look near as strong as they ever have, particularly with Sivo's return from a one-game suspension. Replicate the energy and enthusiasm they ambushed Samoa with and the battle is half-won already.

For PNG to win

It's about belief as Fiji will have a stronger team on paper. The Kumuls have downed the Bati in their previous two meetings, in 2018 and 2016. The teams are very different this time around but if a Kumuls side renowned for ferocious carries and rugged defensive hits can generate some early momentum – like Fiji did to Samoa last week – anything is possible.

Stat Attack

Fiji's last-up 44-18 win over Samoa was their biggest victory in a game against a tier-one nation or Pasifika nation other than Cook Islands. Following on from the mid-year trouncing of Lebanon they have now won their past two Tests by a combined 102-32.

And another thing…

Rabbitohs fullback Alex Johnston, who played one Test for the Kangaroos in 2015 and has twice represented the Indigenous All Stars, is in line to make his Kumuls debut after electing to honour his grandmother's Papua New Guinean heritage in what will be his second Test and first in four years.