Fiji squeeze past PNG in rugby league Test

Tui Kamikamica of Fiji is tackled by Luke Page and Wartovo Puara of Papua New Guinea. Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Fiji have edged Papua New Guinea 22-20 in their Oceania Cup rugby league Test in Christchurch.

It was a lot closer on Saturday afternoon than many had predicted but Fiji's second-half defence ensured they clung on for victory.

After a quiet opening quarter, the game exploded into life when prop Tui Kamikamica opened the scoring for Fiji in the 22nd minute.

That set off a back-and-forward period in which both sides scored before PNG captain Rhyse Martin kicked a penalty goal on the stroke of halftime to give his side a 14-12 lead at the break.

Tries to Viliame Kikau and Ben Nakubuwai in the second spell gave Fiji a slender advantage which proved the difference.

Penrith NRL back-rower Kikau was a constant threat with ball in hand for Fiji and was one of their best. Parramatta winger Maika Sivo also looked dangerous but didn't get enough ball to have a major impact on the game.

Fiji were able to get their offloads going in the second half as they promoted the ball to put pressure on a tired Kumuls defensive line.

Despite having their share of possession during a tense final 20 minutes, PNG were unable to find a try to cause an upset.

The win means Fiji top Pool B of the Oceania Cup and will play next year in Pool A alongside New Zealand and Tonga, replacing Australia who are scheduled to travel to Europe.