Captain David Mead has led Papua New Guinea to their first rugby league win on foreign soil in 16 years, upsetting Fiji 24-22 in a thrilling opening to an international double-header in Parramatta on Saturday night.
Mead, one of just two players with NRL experience in the Kumuls line-up, saved two certain tries in the first half, including a 60-metre chase to deny Canterbury player Tyrone Phillips.
The Gold Coast winger wasn’t the only player to star for PNG, with halfback Watson Boas crossing twice and brother Ase kicking three goals.
Mead’s Titans teammate Nene Macdonald appeared to have sealed the win when he extended the lead to eight late in the contest, only for Fijian winger Etuate Qionimacawa to bring them back within striking distance in the 76th minute.
However the Kumuls held on against a Fiji side boasting seven NRL players, giving them their first victory on foreign soil since a World Cup triumph against Tonga in 2000.
The breakthrough win also came despite losing winger Justin Olam for 10 minutes in the sin bin after the PNG Hunters representative committed a professional foul in the first half.
Papua New Guinea were down 12-8 when Olam intercepted a pass from an offside position, paving the way for the Fiji Bati to take a 16-8 halftime lead through Qionimacawa.