A spectacular men’s final went down to the last minute at Bisini Grounds, with a last-gasp try handing PNG an 8-7 win.
Samoa led 7-6 before PNG made its late surge, led by captain Eugene Eka, who set up Kora David for the equaliser.
PNG then forced a Samoan turnover on halfway, and counter-attacked their way downfield before Uari Sarufa Saea caught the Samoans off guard and touched down for the winner right on full time.
Samoa had appeared the more composed team for the majority of the match, having PNG backpedalling most of the time and catching them out of position to score some easy touchdowns.
But PNG stayed close enough on the scoreboard to take full advantage of their late surge.
Skipper Eugene Eka (PNG) praised his players for the spirited comeback and credited the opposition for a tight match.
“Samoa made us work hard for the win,” Eka said.
PNG team manager Ian Yaro expressed relief after the narrow victory.
“I’m just lost for words to be honest,” Yaro said. “The Samoans caught us all off guard.”
In the women’s final, Samoa wasted no time in scoring first, but PNG replied immediately and the two teams eventually went into halftime locked at 2-2.
In the second stanza, the PNG women came out firing and never looked back, running their bigger opponents all over the park.
PNG led 6-2 with three minutes left when injury to a Samoan player as she dived for a touchdown forced a premature end to the match.
PNG womens captain, Diane Vetu was overwhelmed with the victory and thanked her team for their perseverance and composure.
“I know without the support of the team we wouldn’t have won,” Vetu said. “I’m also proud that my son (Samuel Vetu), who also plays in the PNG men’s team that defeated Samoa, will wear a gold medal too.”
A large and vocal crowd lifted both PNG teams to their first ever Pacific Games touch footy gold medals.
Cook Islands took both bronze medals, beating Solomon Islands 14-8 in the men’s and Kiribati 11-2 in the women’s.
But don’t fret touch footy fans, because this doesn’t end the action at Bisini Grounds. At 13:00 on Wednesday the mixed touch footy tournament begins with Cook Islands taking on Kiribati.
GNS sk/pg/Pacific News Service