10 Aug 2017

Sport: NZ lead AFL International Cup as PNG bounce back

12:16 pm on 10 August 2017

The New Zealand Hawks are top of the AFL International Cup standings after thrashing Fiji 76-6 in their latest pool match in Melbourne.

Barclay Miller and Brendan Clark led the way with three goals a-piece.

Head coach Rob Malone said they took their time to get into the match.

"It was a bit slow to start with, bit scrappy," he said.

"Credit to Fiji, they tackled pretty hard and they committed to the contest pretty hard and killed the ball a lot and it was very hard for our blokes to break the shackles.

"But to their credit the guys persisted and when we did break free we were able to move the ball freely into our forward line so scrappy start but we came home reasonably strong".

The New Zealand Hawks are among the top contenders to win the AFL International Cup.

The New Zealand Hawks are among the top contenders to win the AFL International Cup. Photo: Twitter / AFLNZ

Ireland and the USA are also unbeaten after two rounds, while Papua New Guinea returned to winning ways with a comprehensive 84-35 victory over Nauru.

The defending men's champions suffered a first-up defeat against Ireland but were too slick for the Chiefs, with Amua Muzza Piprika leading the ways with four goals.

Nauru were no match for the PNG Mozzies.

Nauru were no match for the PNG Mozzies. Photo: AFL Nauru

Nauru failed to score in the opening quarter against PNG and vice captain Kenneth Oppenheimer said they've performed well below expectations.

"We expected it to be pretty tough but not this tough," he said.

"Our team is struggling a bit to get used to the conditions here, the cold, and I don't know.

"It's something that's not clicking like we usually do and we're taking a bit of time (to get into matches) against New Zealand and also PNG - the second half we're just getting into it so it's not good enough."

Nauru are eighth of ten teams after two rounds but sense a prime opportunity to chalk up their first win against fellow strugglers France on Friday.

"We're all looking forward to this one - a lot of our fans have travelled all the way from Nauru and we want to get them a win," reasoned Oppenheimer.

"And especially the boys - a lot of us we're starting to feel a but down and I think this will cheer us up a bit and get our heads back into winning".

Nauru finished seventh at the last International Cup in 2014 and are still holding out hope they can finish higher if they perform to their capabilities against France and Canada.

"If you look at it, apart from PNG, New Zealand and Ireland the table is very even," he said.

"We could be fourth, you know. South Africa is not looking too strong and Great Britain as well and we're looking at maybe fourth of fifth place if we're lucky".

Meanwhile the PNG Flames were outclassed by the United States 42-15 in the women's competition, with Fiji narrow 33-24 losers against Great Britain.