Oceania Cup: PNG and Solomon Islands take lead after Round 1
MATCH 1 – SOLOMON ISLANDS V NIUE
The searing Port Moresby sun beamed mercilessly on Lloyd Robson Oval as teams for the first match eagerly went through their paces for the anticipated exciting opening to the 2011 Oceania Cup. Niue looked menacing as they rolled out of the changing room, with size certainly in their favour in comparison to the slighter Solomon Islands team who seemed oblivious to the obvious weight advantage. With National Anthems sung aloud, Niue then vigorously performed their war chant to the defiant stance of the Solomon Islanders, who seemed to have upped their sleeves against the more fancied Niueans.
As expected, Niue looked to their engine room up to pummel the Solomons into submission, but the boys from Honiara were equal to the task, and despite being the slighter of the two, showed great tenacity in cutting down the burley Niueans at every chance in the starting moments of the match. Sustained pressure by the Niueans close proved too much for the Solomon Islanders allowing Niuean fly half Danny Atamu to slip through the Solomons’ inside centres to cross over for a try in the 12th minute. With the conversion unsuccessful, Niue sought to continue their onslaught through the middle with some bruising runs by their skipper Luka Gibbs and front row partners.
To their credit however, the Solomon Islanders hung on to weather the Niueans down, and were able to string together some probing runs on the flanks to frustrate a Niuean team whom were obviously struggling with the scorching heat.
By the 20th minute Solomon Islands’ skipper Corey Chapman burrowed through the Niuean defence close to the line to take the lead. An ensuing try by man of the match lock Delaiverata only minutes later soon sent the alarm bells ringing for the Niueans who seemed stunned by the tenacity of the Solomon Islanders.
Both teams came out roaring in the second spell with the Solomon Islanders seemingly the more conditioned, with Lock Delaiverata racing over for another try after a sizzling run up the field, and after eluding a number of Niuean players sold the biggest dummy seen in Moresby to cross the chalk to send through the Solomons to through to next round unbeaten.
Despite two late tries, the Niueans couldn’t salvage the win and would be disappointed at their loss against a jubilant Solomon Islands team.
MATCH 2 – PAPUA NEW GUINEA V VANUATU
The home team stormed to an impressive start against the Vanuatuans with a barnstorming try to No. 4 Gabriel Byama who seemed to carry three to four Vanuatuans over the chalk with him, following a dynamic surge down the side by the PNG forwards.
The PNG loose forward trio looked dangerous from the outset, with No 8 George Oki busting the Vanuatuan defence to dive over for a try in the sixth minute to take the Pukpuks further ahead. Fly half Rooney failed to convert yet again, but was able sneak through a penalty in front of the posts minutes later. George Oki once again split the Vanuatuan defence apart with another strong surge close the ruck on the half way line to offload to his classy backs to allow lively scrum half Kumalau Auru to dive over between the posts to give Rooney an easy conversion. Lock Byama once again showed his strength in again carrying over a horde of Vanuatuans to score his second try in the first half to take the Pukpuks a 23 point lead in almost as many minutes. A rare Vanuatuan raid in PNG territory almost gave the Vanuatuans some points close to the break, but poor handling otherwise prevented some needed points for the struggling Tuskers. A converted try to winger Andrew Samson gave the Pukpuks a handy 30 point lead at the break.
Surprisingly, the Vanuatuans came out of the sheds with some vigour pinning the Pukpuks in their 22 with some probing runs and were unlucky to only come away with a penalty to fly half Gibson Joe to the left of the sticks in the 5th minute of the second spell.
The Pukpuks immediately sprung back into life, with centre Emmanual Auru carving aside the Tuskers mid field to feed Wesley Rooney in the corner for a try. The floodgates soon opened for the Pukpuks with tries to powerhouse No.8 Oki, Auru, Gabi, Tole, Kaka, Miri to ultimately knock the wind out of the Tuskers sails who, by the final 10 minutes, looked disinterested.
PNG scored a total of 13 tries to overwhelm a hapless Tuskers team, who had no answer to the power and speed of the Pukpuks.
For further information: