Oceania Under 19s- round 2
Rat’s tails, baggy pants, sidestepping and confidence are all here at the Oceania Under 19s in Apia- Samoa.
Scanning all teams in this tournament the cherished aspects of youth are alive and evident on the pitch. We are all here for rugby foremost, part of the glorious game is expressing ourselves with what we do on the pitch, for the youth it is also a time to see some old classics lingering around.
Starting with the Rat’s Tail hairdo, on the big stage Rene Ranger has one and has taken the Tail into the All Blacks, the youth of Oceania are also wearing it proud. The next observation is the opposite of rugby league pants, these guys are into the baggy pants almost basketball style.
With all this style on show they also have the talent to pull it off, the fitness is great and the eagerness on the field is positive. Being young also means they can run like the wind and keep doing so. Matches are fast, play is frantic to say the least and the attitude is to run as if they can always run through the entire opposition. Structures are in place too for the top nations, the Cook’s, Samoa and PNG all exhibited the ability to tighten up when required.
At Apia Park today we have 2 matches on the menu. The first will be a humdinger as PNG take on the Cook Islanders.
The Cook’s squad has a lot of players that play and have played first 15 rugby in New Zealand, this experience will be invaluable today, in their stocks are 4 captains from various school teams. Their pack has size and mobility, their lineout does well and the loosies are hunting together and get around the pitch.
In the backs they have a halfback Andrew Hanara fires the pill out without mucking around, he looks as though he can also jink his way through, but with such talent outside him he just feeds them.
In the centers they have size, 12 & 13 are huge and mobile, in particular Adam Tangata causes trouble and unloads to the fleet footed boys beside him. Fullback Justin Marster stays deep and times his raids to perfection, a lot of them look like they have mastered touch rugby massive sidesteps and right across the board they are threatening.
PNG is up against them and will have taken a lot of confidence from their first match; they too look strong across the whole squad. In the pack they are not quite as big, or tall, however their body position and attitude more than make up for this. Tackles are enjoyed and they will fire into everything today.
Out wide they too boast some illusive talent, wingers Kila Bauokoto & Henry Liliket are angle machines, flying in they take the pill at disappear. The teams rock though is number 12 Jackson Pato, he is in everything and looks the class act of their side. He runs hard, he runs straight and he runs well. Never trapped he always makes the right decision and sets up people all around him. His battle with opposite Adam Tangata will be the highlight of the entire day.
Both these teams were a tad eager last match, this is a good sign too, but today tacklers will be a lot firmer than they were last game. Without tightness they will lose the valuable ball.
Conditions in Apia are perfect, a lovely 25 degrees, blue skies & a light breeze surround the rugby field. These young men are in the crunch game today, the winner most likely will advance to the semi finals of the Oceania Cup, today is their day to make a statement.
Kick-off is at 1.45 pm and we will bring you the action and images.