The PNG Kokomos Women’s Open team love their football. In just their second year in QPICC, they have progressed in leaps and bounds under the guidance of coach, Ricky Pon. The PNG girls are a mixed bunch experience-wise. Some have little to no rugby league experience, some have a touch football background and play with our Touch Football associates, QLD PNG Maganis. We have a few who play rugby league in weekend competition.
Our Kokomos ladies are much, much smaller and younger than their competitors. One, Quinnie Warin, wouldn’t stand any higher than 4ft 10 or 147 cm, but such is the heart and passion of these players that they take the field undaunted by the size of their opponents and give it their best shot anyway.
The girls had played the Indigenous team early in the day and were beaten 22-4. Their next match, against Tonga, was looking again to be another David and Goliath battle.
In the opening passage of play, T’Keyah Leong went down injured. Leong is pivotal in steering the girls around the park and providing much needed direction, so it was a relief when she finally resumed play.
Tonga staked their claim on the match with the first converted try putting them ahead 6 points to nil.
Despite the battling the much larger pack, and size being a real issue, PNG let the ball do the work getting it out wide to Valma Tsang whose speed over 40 metres had PNG score their first try for the match. Angelena Watego missed the extras.
PNG were now 4 points to Tonga’s 6.
Quinnie Warin made a break and offloaded to Esmee Kae but were unable to complete the set. Such was the scorching heat that both team captains agreed to stop the match for a desperately needed water break.
As they resumed the match, PNG put together a strong defensive game to keep the Tongan girls at bay and earned themselves a changeover.
Kia Henry made a break but was unable to take advantage when the half time siren sounded. The half time score PNG 4 to Tonga 6.
The girls came back from the half determined to win the match and managed to put Gemma Schnaubelt into space running on to score the Kokomos second try for the match. The Kokomos women’s open team had put themselves in front, PNG 8 to Tonga 6.
Kiera McLean earned a penalty after Tonga stripped the ball. They took the quick tap but were unable to score handing possession back to Tonga. Josephine Wong, who had travelled from Darwin to take part in QPICC, pulled off a text book tackle to prevent another Tonga try.
In the closing stages of the match, Angelena Watego put in a pin-point perfect kick into the corner, with the whip-fast Esmee Kae, chasing it down and grounding the ball for the Kokomos.
The score now PNG 12 to Tonga 6.
The Tongan girls refused to give up and the Kokomos women did its best to keep the Tongan women from their line but the much bigger forwards were able to crash PNG’s party and giving them the opportunity to make it a draw. According to the QPICC rules and regulations, a draw would give the win to Tonga as they were the first try scorers.
The crowd held their breath as Tonga took the kick. The PNG girls screamed their happiness as they watched the Tongan kick fall short of the posts.
The Kokomos Women’s Opens had recorded their first victory beating the Tongans 12 – 10.
PNG were defeated by the even bigger Samoans in the following match and the Samoans went down to the Indigenous team who won the Women’s Open final.
Kia Henry was named QPICC’s Most Valueable Player for PNG Kokomos.
The Kokomos U16s were focused on the championship and knew that Tonga stood between them and a semi final berth. They needed the win in order to continue their QPICC campaign.
Tonga were immediately on the attack and had a crack at the PNG try line but were met by a wall of Kokomos who managed to repel the Tongan raiders. Kokomos’ Ronald Philitoga intercepted the ball but PNG were unable to complete the set.
Tonga were quick to take advantage, cutting through a fractured PNG defensive line to claim the first try of the match but failed to convert.
PNG 0 v Tonga 4
The Kokomos kicked off and Tonga dropped the ball just 2o metres out. The Kokomos were in a prime position to capitalise but Aydhen Herd was pushed over the line just two tackles into the set and let an opportunity go begging.
The game continued to be a bit of a tussle. Both teams demonstrating flashes of brilliance only to succumb to unforced errors. This went on until Bodhi Banister put Jarone Han-Clunn into a hole and cut a swathe through the Tongan defence through to Ryan Oroge, however, in the subsequent play the ball on the line, the opposition reached through the ruck and stripped the ball. Unfortunately, the referee failed to award the appropriate penalty.
The Kokomos shook off the disappointment and before long Josh Paiyo, the recipient of a slick pass from Bodhi Banister, made light work of the opposition defence to score. Jaron Han-Clunn’s kick put the PNG u16 into the lead but this was momentary as Tonga added a converted try as they headed into half time.
PNG 6 v Tonga 10
Kokomos flubbed the kick off and handed possession back to Tonga and as they made there way towards the try line they were handed a gift by the referee in the form of a penalty kick. Tong were sure to make the most of the opportunity and the score was locked up at 6 a piece.
The penalty kick served as a wake up call for the Kokomos. They put their heads down and started to play some smart football. They upped the tempo and started to shift the ball. Aydhen Herd made a break and offloaded to Cruise Ten who scored. Aydhen converted the try he helped to set up.
PNG 12 v Tonga 10
This fired up the Kokomos, they kept up the fast paced attack. Paiyo made the first break offloading to Banister gaining all important metres. This made the way for another break with the ball shifting in quick succession from Cruise Ten, to Banister, on to Ashley Faulkner and Udom Wala and finally into the hands of Ryan Oroge who scored. Herd missed the conversion.
PNG 16 v Tonga 10
Cruise Ten ran a 6o metre individual effort to add to the Kokomos tally. Unfortunately PNG failed to convert a difficult kick from the sideline.
PNG 20 v Tonga 10
The Kokomos u16s had tamed Tonga in their quest for QPICC glory, and in doing so, earning their place in the u16s QPICC Semi Finals.
The Kokomos U16s had done well to make the Semi Finals of the Queensland Pacific Island Cultural Carnival but to earn their place in the Championship final they would first have to face, and overcome, the tournament favourites, the QLD Maoris. A tough ask in the scorching heat.
The QLD PNG team kicked off deep but the Maoris carved an easy path through the Kokomos defence to put the first points on the board with a converted try.
The Maoris continued to string together a series of attacking raids but the PNG defence held firm. Back in possession Martin Pascoe made an incredible break putting Kokomos within striking distance of the try line. Joshua Paiyo attempted to break through but fell just short. A quick play the ball had Ayden Herd putting PNGs first points on the board. Jarone Han-Clunn was unable to add the extras.
The score was now PNG 4 to Maoris 6.
PNG again attacked the Moari defence using the ball to outflank the Maoris. Udom Wala shifted the pass out to Ryan Orege who scored. Han-Clunn added the all important two points.
The score PNG 10 to Maoris 6.
Josh Paiyo cut through the Maori defense with a hard charging 30 metre run but a knock on a few plays later prevented the Kokomos from gaining any advantage from it.
The Maoris were determined to hit back when, just ten metres out from their own line, put through a kick. Aydhen Herd’s quick reflexes intercepted the kick and that sent him tearing down the field at a million miles an hour with the Maoris in hot pursuit. It was a brilliant, individual 100 metre effort from Herd to put the Kokomos in front. Han-Clunn added the extras.
PNG 16 – Maoris 6
The Maoris looked in position to hit back as they shifted the ball out to the wing only to knock the ball on. They recovered sufficiently to try again a few minutes later but when attempting to score a try they dove through the ruck and PNG were awarded a penalty relieve the pressure on PNG.
At half time the score was still PNG 16 to Maoris 6.
When the boys returned after half time the momentum was with the Maoris who landed a converted try early in the second half.
The score was PNG 16 to Maoris 12.
The Moaris kept charging but the PNG defence held until they eventually scored from a PNG error and a successful conversion saw the Maoris in the lead for the first time in the match.
PNG 16 – Maoris 18
This was a crucial point in the match where it really could have gone either way. The Maoris kept rolling on the attacking raids and the PNG defence held firm. The bigger Maori boys were starting to tire in the heat. The PNG boys pulled together as a team in response. The defensive efforts of Cruise Ten, Ben Kay, Trae O’Reilly, Yawinylan Manua and Ryan Oroge laid the platform for the final run on the Maoris.
It was Bodhi Banister who put his head down and forced his way over the line to put PNG back in front. Aydhen Herd added another two points.
PNG 22 – Maoris 18
Kokomos put the game beyond doubt with an awesome try from Jackson Burgess who’s elusive step, speed an agility made it difficult for the Moaris to prevent him from scoring. Aydhen Herd added the final points.
PNG had bundled out the tournament favourites in the semi final, beating them 28 points to Maoris 18 and earning a shot at the U16s QPICC title against Niue.
PIC: Joshua Paiyo receives offload from Cruise Ten
Wow. This Queensland Pacific Island Cultural Carnival Championship title win was one for the history books.
In previous years, the then much smaller PNG pack had been well and truly beaten. In fact, they hadn’t won a single game in the QPICC tournament. In the previous three years they had pitted themselves against the other, much bigger, packs from the Pacific Island nations, including the Maoris, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Tokelau and the Australian Indigenous squads. But the boys, even back then, showed real fight following the QLD PNG creed of ‘never, ever, ever giving up’.
This year, the gap between the physical size of the QLD PNG Kokomos small, but mobile pack, had closed to a degree. However, the opposition from all the other island nations still had the wood on the Kokomos u16s in the size department.
There is no doubt that all the other island nations, including new entrant Niue, had taken a good look at the draw and had marked PNG down as an easy win in their ledger.
The QPICC Carnival weekend is a three day event. The U16s draw had them in the opening timeslot on the Friday night. The team had gotten off to a slow start allowing Samoa to put on a 16 – 0 lead over the Kokomos boys but the second half showed a more cohesive, more up tempo game and glimpses of some real team brilliance that resulted in tries by Josh Paiyo and Cruise Ten and they were able to bring the score back to a more respectable PNG 10 to Samoa 20.
The warm Friday night gave no indication of the high temperatures and relentless dry heat that sapped the energy of all teams over the next two days. As Saturday morning dawned, however, it was clear that the Kokomos boys would have to battle not just their classy opponents but the relentless heat in order to claim the QPICC title.
After the first round loss the boys had to win against Tonga in order to qualify for the semi-finals the following day. In the trial games, just weeks earlier, the Tongan boys had beaten the Kokomos 22-14, so they knew a win, though a tough ask, was possible if they pulled it all together. And pull it together they did.
Pic: Martin Pascoe and Ashley Faulkner pull off a try saving tackle.
The PNG Kokomos beat Tonga 20 to 10. The PNG U16s had earned a berth in the first semi-final against the tournament favourites, the QLD Maoris, the following day.
The boys knew that the Maoris were going to be a real challenge and they rose to meet it. They pulled together to bundle the favourites out of the tournament. The 28-18 victory put PNG into the championship final. But a it was a physically tough encounter in extreme heat and it was obvious the boys had little left in the tank.
The final encounter, against Niue was going to be a gruelling encounter. It was just an hour later, in the middle of the day and the relentless heat showed no sign of abating, and the Nuiean team was chock full of state representative players.
PNG usually started most games slowly which often saw the opposition score early and left PNG scrambling to overcome their opponents. This time they got the drop early on Niue, courtesy of a brilliant try from Martin Pascoe. Jarone Han-Clunn made sure of the extras putting PNG in the lead 6 to nil.
Bustling runs from Cruise Ten, Winston Daki and Joshua Paiyo had the Kokomos back on the attack and put them in position to strike again. This time it was Aydhen Herd who put the points on the board, with Han-Clunn again adding the two points. The Kokomos were now 12 to nil over their Niuean opponents.
Bodhi Banister kicked the ball into the corner and Niue returned with a pacey run down the sideline but Kokomo’s Ashley Faulkner ran him down to pull off a try saving tackle. The next play again looked to be a certain Niue try when Martin Pascoe, pulled of a second try saving tackle and made sure to take his Niuean opponent over the sideline.
PNG took the ball back to within striking distance of the try line. In a last tackle play, Joshua Paiyo punched through the defence and offloaded to Cruise Ten but the Niuean defence held firm and were able to crack the PNG defence to score with the score now PNG 12 to Niue 6.
Pic: Cruise Ten, Trae O’Reilly, Aydhen Herd keep Niue from scoring.
Nuie scored again but were unable to convert. They had clawed their way back to within two points of PNG. The score 12 -10. The heat was really taking a toll on all the players, though neither team was prepared to give in. By half time PNG had conceded another try to Niue and the PNG side went into the break down by 4 points.
In the half time break the boys sought relief from the sun in what little shade was available while Coach, Matt Muir, implored the boys to stick to their game plan and dig deep.
In the second half, Winston Daki made an early break and this was followed up by PNG’s Udom Wala making a run down the sideline but was unfortunately taken out over the sideline.
Joshua Paiyo made another line-busting run and looked to have scored but the referee called it a knock on.
PNG took another hit when Niue scored again but were unable to convert. The score was now a somewhat worrying PNG 12 – Niue 20.
Matthew Korilio put PNG back in the game, creating a try from virtually nothing from 20 metres out, stepping and weaving his way through a sea of Niuean defenders to put another Kokomos try on the board. Aydhen Herd slotted the ball through the posts.
The score was now PNG 18 – Niue 20 and despite the heat it was game on.
Pic: Martin Pascoe on the attack.
The Kokomos boys pulled it together and dug deep. Niue’s game became prone to errors including dropping the ball cold.
PNG piled on the pressure and again put themselves within striking distance of the line and Bodhi Banister put through a grubber and Udom Wala outrun his opponents to score the championship winning try in corner. Aydhen Herd missed the kick. When the full time siren went some seconds later the score was PNG 22-20.
The U16s Best and Fairest, as voted by QLD PNG, was Joshua Paiyo, son of Kumul hooker, Elias Paiyo, who conceded his 22 year World Cup point scoring (1995 vs Tonga in Hull England, 12 points) record to Rhyse Martin, in the Kumuls 50-6 victory over Wales. The U16s Player of the Carnival, as voted by the referees, was Martin Pascoe, a rugby union player whose of first game of rugby league was, incredibly, the week before the QPICC carnival in a trial match against the Cook Islands.
The U16s Queensland Pacific Island Cultural Carnival Championship win was an incredible victory for the Kokomos. A victory over their history, a victory over the heat, a victory for playing for each other as a PNG team and a victory for ‘never, ever, ever giving up’.
Co-Captains Cruise Ten and Joshua Paiyo, who was also voted Best & Fairest, with the
2017 QPICC Championship Trophy and QLD PNG President, Tom Adamson.
2017 U16s QPICC MVP – Martin Pascoe
The u18s Kokomo’s side couldn’t have started their game against the Maoris any better. Some slick passing and a deft step saw the PNG boys score in the opening minutes of the match.
PNG 4 v Maori 0
The Maori’s hit back with a try down the line but missed the kick leaving the score at 4-all. The Moaris were quick to add the next try with a 70 metre solo effort that eluded the Kokomos defence.
PNG 4 v Maori 8
The two teams continue make significant inroads on the other team for the remainder of the half but neither team could land any punches on the other for the remainder of the first half.
The Maori team opened up the second half with several forays into the PNG territory and although they managed to get within centimetres of the line twice, some solid defence from the Kokomos repelled the attack raids.
PNG then intercepted a further attacking raid but the referee called it a knock on. PNG however, weren’t done. Bobby Tau scored for the Kokomos and again the scores were locked. This time at 8 a piece.
PNG 8 v Maori 8
The Kokomos fought through fatigue to keep the pressure on their opponents and the Moaris were on the back foot trying to keep the Kokomos at bay. Jayden Sharp looked to have scored but the referee ruled penalised them for play the ball infractions. The Maoris, aware the siren was about to go at any second were keen to garner the win but they were beaten by the final whistle.
Disappointed at being robbed of the win the Kokomos u18s had to settle for a draw.
QLD PNG have been steadily working towards QPICC for over the past few months and tonight, after the opening ceremony, the U16s QLD PNG team were the first team up to bat, playing QLD Samoa. Spectators were treated to the Samoan version of the Haka. The Siva Tau is a Samoan war dance performed in front of their competitors before a game.
PNG started the game with a solid set of six but the Samoans were quick to turn things around once in possession. Samoa looked set score but PNG’s defensive line held. Samoa tried again. This time they ran it down the sideline and Martin Pascoe, a rugby union player in just his second game of rugby league, pulled off an incredible try-saving tackle with the added bonus of taking the Samoan player over the side line.
Samoa, again applied pressure to PNG but this time managed to breach the PNG defence and scoring the first converted try of the match.
PNG 0 v Samoa 6
A great kick from PNG saw Samoa knock out just 20m out from the try line. PNG were unable to take advantage of the situation and a scrum saw the Samoan team regain possession. A great tackle by Josh Paiyo saw Samoa cough up the ball. A few balls later and Paiyo was punching holes in the Samoan defence. However, PNG were unable to turn these into points.
Back in possession, Samoa stepped it up a notch, and they were again looking to score when Martin Pascoe again pulled off a try saving tackle. On the back of the Pascoe’s efforts the PNG boys put together a well constructed set of six and looked set to put their first points on the board when a well read, though offside, intercept resulted in try for Samoa.
PNG 0 v Samoa 10
Samoa managed to add another converted try just as the referee signalled the end of the half. The half-time score:
PNG 0 v Samoa 16
The PNG team started the second half playing with a bit more cohesion and a more up tempo game but Samoa extended their lead with another try.
PNG 0 v Samoa 20
Samoa and PNG spent the next few minutes in a bit of a tight battle, neither side conceding in defence but both teams coughing up ball or pushing bad passes. PNG were next to score courtesy of a bustling try by Josh Paiyo. Jarone Han-Clunn added the much needed extras.
PNG 6 v Samoa 20
Samoa looked set to hit back but the solid PNG defence held firm and the sustained pressure saw Samoa drop the ball. Back in possession the PNG boys took it up to the Samoan 16s and Cruise Ten carved, weaved and pushed his way over the line for PNGs second try of the night.
The full time score PNG 10 v Samoa 20.