PNG claim 2011 Oceania Cup
The final round of the Oceania Cup finally sprung into action, with the winner to be surely decided after today’s exciting clashes between the four nations of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Niue and hosts Papua New Guinea.
Despite been unbeaten through the first two rounds, the Pukpuk’s claim to the cup was not yet in the bag. Niue and Solomon Islands were very much still in the hunt, with either able to sneak in should results go their way against the mighty Pukpuks and Tuskers respectively. The boys from Port Villa though will have everything to play for, and will not be sparing the kitchen sink to snatch a win before heading home to Vanuatu. All will be decided this afternoon at Lloyd Robson Oval under the scorching Moresby Sun, with only one team reserved the right to take the podium, come the medal ceremony.
Vanuatu Tuskers vs Solomon Islands Warriors.
The Warrior’s intentions were made clear from the start, and after rumbling up the kickoff, gave up an easy penalty in front of the posts to tap the ball for a try out wide to skipper Corey Chapman. Galo successfully converted to give the Warriors a 7 point lead after only 3 minutes.
The imposing Warriors pack continued their dominance up front, and seemed to break the advantage line at will from some cleverly structured driving play from ruck ball, which frustrated the Tuskers. Poor handling however prevented the Warriors more points and yet they seemed unstoppable. After stringing together several phases from a missed Tuskers clearance kick, the Warriors finally strolled over for their second try to fullback Tengemoana to stretch their lead to 12 points.
A third try soon followed from a Warriors lineout meters from the try line with Barnstorming Warriors lock Fredson Soaki bursting through some weak Tuskers defence out wide to grab another seven pointer for his team between the posts.
The Tuskers suddenly sprung into action, and were able to pounce onto loose pill from a clearance kick to snatch a try out wide to winger Patrick August to post much needed points for the Tuskers. The Warriors however struck back almost immediately and added their own two tries to Mid Fielder Pitabelama and winger Kaituhu to give the Warriors a healthy half time lead of 31 points to the Tuskers 5.
Vanuatu came out of the blocks in the second half with vigour and proved more difficult to penetrate this time round for the Warriors with a more spirited defensive display which disrupted the Warriors forward momentum. The Warriors scoring machine was contained to two tries in the 3rd quarter with Kauga and Baibe both crossing over, whilst conceding a try to Tuskers front rower Tonny Liu who snapped up loose ball from a ruck close to the line to dive over for another five pointer. Franklin further added a three pointer from a ruck infringement by the Warriors to give the Tuskers 13 points.
The Tuskers once again stunned the Warriors with another try to Lock Yona Gale much to the delight of the crowd. Tete converted Gales’s try to narrow the Warriors lead with minutes remaining.
The boys from Honiara had the last say however, with a bullocking try to Fredson Soaki to give him his second for the day and his team a comfortable win against a spirited Tuskers challenge 48 points to 20.
Niue vs Papua New Guinea.
The Fierce war dance performed by the Niueans and the defiant stance of the Papua New Guineans prior to kick off set the tone for the final encounter of the Oceania Cup, as the sound of the two teams smashing into each other from the kickoff riveted deep into the stands.
Any ascendency the Pukpuk forwards had in the previous rounds was quickly squashed by the 2008 Champions as they flung themselves at the Pukpuk’s in the opening ten minutes of the match. The deadlock was finally broken at the 18 minute mark with Pukpuks Chris Kakah crossing over for a try near the touchline, after some quick hands by his inside men. Wesley Rooney failed to convert to give the Pukpuks an early 5 point lead.
An opportunity for Niue to put some points on the score board was missed by Samoa who failed to convert a simple penalty attempt 25 meters from the uprights. The Pukpuks also gave up the chance for more points with winger Samson fumbling the ball with a clear try line in sight.
A quick line out throw deep in their half went terribly wrong for the Niueans, resulting in a scrum feed to the Home team 10 meters out from their try line. The Pukpuks wasted no time, with No 8 Billy Torea scooping up the ball from the scrum base to power his way through to the try line. Rooney this time slotted the ball between the up rights to add 7 points to give the Pukpuks a handy 12 point lead at the halftime break.
A charged down Niuean clearance kick in the opening minute by Samson set the Pukpuks alight and after a show of breath taking passes, the hometown heroes added another try to lock Phillip Suapo under the posts. Rooney easily converted to increase the margin to 19 points. Billy Torea moments later scored his second try of the match by busting his way once again through some lazy Niuean defence for Rooney to convert.
By this time the Niueans were clearly tiring and were struggling to contain the pace of the young Pukpuks, especially in the loose where their pacey backs were carving the Niueans at will. Wesley Rooney snatched a try of his own on the flanks after some quick hands, but was unable to convert his own try. The Pukpuk try line seemed impregnable up until the last quarter, with a rare turnover ball deep in their territory resulting in a consolation try for Niuean winger Makavilitogia in the corner. A successful conversion to Soloasi Ahosivi gave the Niueans a tinge of motivation with 10 minutes remaining. A scintillating raid by the Pukpuks into Niuean territory resulted in the Pukpuk’s fifth try to replacement Kumalau Auru crossing for a try after latching on to a clever offload by Tisa Kautu
By the full time whistle, the Niueans were clearly run ragged by the Pukpuks, and slumped in despair as the referee signalled the end of the match. The Pukpuk’s though leapt for joy, as they would be proud of their performances throughout the tournament, and proved without a doubt their class as deserved champions of the 2011 Oceania Cup.