Pacific Championships: Lachlan Lam, Jack de Belin shine

Papua New Guinea have outclassed Cook Islands in a high-scoring Pacific Championships clash, with star playmaker Lachlan Lam the star of the show in the 46-10 result on Sunday afternoon.

Playing in front of a boisterous crowd in Port Moresby, the hosts flew out of the gates in the opening half, crossing for six tries before the half-time break.

The visitors were forced into an early reshuffle after halfback Tevin Arona was stretchered off the field after an awkward tackle attempt on Dragons forward Dan Russell, leaving the side in disarray and unable to recover.

The second-half saw the Kumuls take their foot off the gas slightly as errors and penalties crept into the contest, but still managed to register an impressive first-up victory in the inaugural tournament.

Lachlan Lam and Jack de Belin stand out in PNG Kumuls’ convincing victory.
The energetic PNG team, led by new head coach Justin Holbrook, gave their home crowd much to cheer about by scoring nine tries in a convincing victory at Santos National Football Stadium.

While Cowboys center Zac Laybutt crossed for a double and kicked five extra points, Jack de Belin, making his international debut, was outstanding in the middle of the field, finishing with over 150 run meters and 20 tackles made without missing a beat.

While the dependable Alex Johnston was stylish in the No. 1 jumper and finished with 145 run meters, one linebreak, and one try assist, Nene MacDonald reverted to his NRL days and scored four tries.

But all the talk was surrounding Lam, who is reportedly weighing up a potential return to Australia next season after dominating in the Super League in 2023 and helping the Leigh Leopards to a Challenge Cup triumph.

The 25-year-old produced three try assists and was the clear standout with ball in hand, showing his class and game-management to steer the ship for the Kumuls as they kicked off their campaign in style.

Esom Ioka scored the first four-pointer for Cook Islands in the 48th minute, before centre Steven Marsters capped off a team effort to help the Karmichael Hunt-coached outfit reach double-digits on the scoreboard.

Ultimately, the side struggled to keep pace with their rivals despite boastings the likes of Davvy Moale, Kayal Iro and Makahesi Makatoa in their lineup and will now look to regroup before facing Fiji in seven days’ time.

PNG will now have a weekend off, before reconvening at their home ground once again to square off against the Bati on October 29th in a crucial clash.

For the full schedule and results for this year’s Pacific Championships

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