PNG Pukpuks roll Vanuatu in FORU Cup western conference clash
The PNG Pukpuks outgunned the Vanuatu Tuskers 86-12 in in the FORU Cup western conference clash.
In front of a good crowd of 5000, at the Lloyd Robson Oval-Port Moresby it became a try fest. The 74 point margin did not reflect the effort of a brave ni-Vanuatu, but it did expose the gulf in standards between both sides as the Pukpuks ran in 14 tries to Vanuatu’s two.
The result was not as bad as the 97-3 score line of 2005, the Tuskers were probably feeling a sense of dejavu when Pukpuk flanker Alex Haija crashed over in the very first minute of the match.
The homeside’s fast rucking and phase play put Vanuatu on the back foot practically from the get go and Pukpuk prop Adam Hill barged his way over for his side’s second minutes later on the back of a penalty 5m out. Diminutive PNG fullback Jack Maraha slotted the conversion after missing earlier for a 12-0 lead after barely 10 minutes of play.
The Pukpuks added a further six tries in the half to the Tusker’s lone effort by winger Rometi Usamoli who showed a glimpse of the type pace in the Vanuatu backline when he latched on to a loose PNG pass deep in his 22 to outpace the cover on a 90m run.
With the half time score at 52-7, the Pukpuks could have been forgiven for shifting back into low gear with the game virtually in the bag, and for the first 12 minutes of the second stanza it certainly looked that way as a flat Pukpuks committed unforced errors allowing the Tuskers more time in possession.
Vanuatu for their part were guilty of incongruity, attempting two drop goals while in good attacking position, a sign that they had already conceded the match and were in containment mode. PNG put on another six tries to a consolation by Vanuatu flyhalf Kaltonga Kalsau in the 74th minute.
In the Vanuatu camp post match the mood was understandably somber with Coach Ishmael Kalsakau all but admitting that his charges were outclassed but did not make it any easier on themselves with some poor options and deviating from the game plan. “The plan just fell away when they [Pukpuks] exposed our mid field so we were forced to play more defensively for most of the match. “Next year in the Oceania Cup [FORU Cup] we’ll be better prepared but this was a disappointing result for us,” Kalsakau.
PNG captain Raymond Romalus was happy with the hit out but did not put too much stock into the result opting instead to take the cautious route, “We’ve still got improving to do as a team. “I felt the boys played well but we were never really pushed out of our comfort zone. We’d like more structure to our play and for the next match we’ve got a few areas to work on,” Romalus offered.
And that next match will be against Cook Islands who managed a 29-7 win over Niue in Wellington earlier today.
Match Scores and round up:
IRB-FORU Cup Western Conference match between PNG Pukpuks and Vanuatu Tuskers.
PNG Pukpuks 86 (Jack Maraha 3, Edwin Noki 2, Adam Hill, Alex Haija, Adam Hill, Yaisuo Giheno, Raymond Romalus, Charles Maip, David Eri, Manu Gairo Jr., Chris Hogi tries J. Maraha 6 con, Lawrence Acanufa 2 con) defeated Vanuatu Tuskers 12 (Rometi Usamoli, Kalsau Kaltonga tries Geoffrey Kausei con)
Source: The National-PNG