Sport:Samoa and PNG celebrate Pacific Test success
Samoa, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands were winners as international rugby league returned to the spotlight.
The Pacific Test is over for another year with Samoa and Papua New Guinea victors on the field against Tonga and Fiji over the weekend.
But the controversy surrounding rugby league's eligibility rules and the plight of Pacific nations rumble on unabated.
Vinnie Wylie digests a busy weekend.
Samoa defended the Polynesian Cup, outclassing Tonga 18-6 at Pirtek Stadium.
Cronulla Sharks five-eight Fa'amanu Brown benefited from the controversial absence of Brisbane Broncos star Anthony Milford to win man of the match honours on debut.
Samoa coach Matt Parish and Tonga's Kristian Woolf have both been outspoken on the difficulties faced by Pacific nations in picking their best sides for international matches.
Woolf says he regularly hears from players that want to play for the Mate Ma'a but can't.
KRISTIAN WOOLF: For me the biggest issue is still the eligibility rules. Plenty of guys that could have played in that game tonight and have played for Tonga before and been very proud representatives of Tonga, and because they've made a change or played a game somewhere else they can't come back and that means they watch rep footy and to me that's the biggest issue: we still do have circumstances where clubs need to be more supportive but I've got to say that this time around that's been less of an issue for our team and clubs for the most part have been really supportive of this.
In the earlier clash, Papua New Guinea upset Fiji 24-22 in the Melanesian Cup to notch their first win on foreign soil in 16 years.
Gold Coast Titans fullback David Mead led the Kumuls and was named man of the match in his first appearance for PNG since the 2013 World Cup.
Coach Michael Marum says the result is massive for the sport.
MICHAEL MARUM: It means a lot to everyone back at home...good to see the boys pull off that win, even though it was just by two points but it's probably about time we start winning some games too and getting recognised back in the international stage. Back in PNG probably the country's probably...everyone's going to stop and keep talking about this game but it's a great win and all we have to do now is work from here and move on to whatever games we're having end of the year or maybe next.
Fiji's preparations were initially overshadowed by winger Semi Radradra's defection to Australia. However his replacement, 21-year-old local Etuate Qionimacawa, announced himself with a hat-trick on debut.
But a loss is a loss and coach Mick Potter said it was a terrible result for the Bati.
MICK POTTER: A lot of it was our own doing. The other team controlled the ball pretty well and we were a little bit loose with the ball: we were 25 percent completions in the second half which, in anyone's book, is quite unacceptable and you're a long shot to win a game and yet we were very very close to winning it but very close doesn't cut it so the players are disappointed, I'm disappointed and there's no-one else to blame but ourselves.
The Cook Islands were also in action over the weekend, coming from behind to beat Lebanon 30-20 in Sydney.
The Kukis were captained by Penrith Panthers forward Tupou Sopoaga but head coach Alex Chan wasn't happy they were denied access to more first-grade players.
ALEX CHAN: I can understand the clubs' point of view in terms of it's a business for them but when you're talking international football this is an opportunity for these kids to go out and be honoured to be selected to play for their people and their country. I think they've taken those opportunities from players by telling them your priority is here with the club. There's been a few boys there that have stood to their word and said my first and foremost is to play for my people and my country. It's a great honour - as it should be - to be selected to play for your country and I think a lot of people have gone away from that mindset and they're thinking more with their wallet than their heart.
Alex Chan says despite not qualifying for the World Cup he's optimistic the Cook Islands will continue to find test matches.
Meanwhile Samoa will play their first official Test on home soil against Fiji later this year, to celebrate 30 years of rugby league in the country.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: