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
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.
The U16s struggled through the first half in their trial match against the Cook Island boys. The somewhat lacklustre first half was disappointing with the Cook Islands piling on 18 points. PNG, on the other hand, put four points on the board thanks to a try by Bodhi Banister.
What was said to boys at half-time remains unknown but the second half performance was an entirely different story. Cook Is scored a converted try early in the second half, extending their lead to PNG 4 v Cook Is 24.
An injury to Kokomo, Donovan Obi, stopped the game momentarily. As the game recommenced PNG strung together some beautiful team plays and managed to work their way to within the try line. As they looked to cross it, Cook Island stripped the ball and awarded the PNG boys a second dig that they were determined to take advantage of and they did courtesy of a hard charging try from Josh Paiyo and a successful conversion by Danley Mark. PNG 10 v Cook Is 24.
This seemed to spark a resurgence in the PNG boys who showed flashes of absolute brilliance, with incredible team work. It seems the connections they struggled to make happen in the first half were beginning to work with another try for PNG from Danley Mark, who was unable to convert his own try. The score now PNG 14 v 24 and this was the final score at the full time siren.
Coach, Matt Muir, revealed after the match, that the team had taken on a bunch of Rugby Union boys from Nudgee college, some of whom had never actually played league before.
Asked what he was looking for from the boys, Muir made it clear that he wanted the boys to play with more intensity and aggression in the upcoming QPICC games.
“We need to look at our attitudes and learn to compete for everything, we need to make the opposition work for the win”, he said.
“The game plan is not to play one-up football but to throw the ball wide and up the tempo. We need to keep the pressure on in attack and ask questions of the opposition defence,” he stated.
The u16s Kokomos took the field and watched, with spectators, the Tongan boys perform their cultural equivalent of the Haka.
The wind had picked up since the earlier, u14s match as the Kokomos boys kicked of their second trial match in their campaign to claim the 2017 QPICC Carnival u16s title under the guidance of Senior Coach, Matt Muir.
PNG were quick to make their mark on the game with Edward Bolan putting PNG in front with an early try. Unfortunately PNG were unable to convert. PNG 4 – Tonga 0.
PNG looked to do it again, with half, Bodhi Banister, offloading to Josh Paiyo who bustled through the Tongan defence to put them with 5m of the Tongan try line. However, a Tongan intercept put an end to the PNG attacking raid.
Tonga returned serve putting the pressure on the Kokomos boys and the boys withstood the initial threat with some brilliant defense but eventually succumbed with Hunter Rundmann putting Tonga’s first points on the board. A successful conversion putting Tonga in the lead. PNG 4 – Tonga 6.
Another Tongan try before the siren put the half time score at PNG 4 – Tonga 12.
PNG made an early break in the second half and Cruise Ten capitalised on the opportunity scoring but again PNG were unable to add the extras. PNG 8 – Tonga 12.
The battle continued with Tonga hitting back and extending their lead to 8 points over their PNG opponents. This was further extended with another converted try to Tonga making the score PNG 8 – Tonga 22.
The PNG boys refused to give up without a fight and Kokomos’ Cruise Ten’s individual try combined with Jarone Clunn’s 2 points, made the final score PNG 14 – Tonga 22.
The Kokomos boys showed flashes of brilliance and as they continue to work their combinations, and become more confident in the team mates around them, I am sure that they will obtain the dominance they seek.
The under 16s from the QLD PNG Kokomos & QLD Niue kicked off their trial match at 12:3o on a hot and dry, 30 degree, Gold Coast Saturday and the game looked to be as hot as the ambient temperature. It was agreed by both teams that instead of playing a match of two halves that they switch to 4 x 15 minute quarters so the players could stay hydrated in the heat.
After playing the National Anthems for the visiting Niue team and for PNG, the spectators were treated to the Niue equivalent of the Haka. The cultural element being a key feature of the Queensland Pacific Island Cultural Carnival (QPICC) tradition.
Niue opened the encounter with a deft try by Frazier Ginn. They failed to add the extras. The score Nuie 4 – PNG 0.
Jayden Sharp busted through the Nuie defence, the big 40m run setting up a second play with a break by Joshua Paiyo and quick pass by Ben Kay which resulted in a try by PNG’s Cruise Ten. Jarone Clunn added another two points to give PNG the lead 6 – 4
PNG kept the pressure on with a pinpoint kick from Cruise Ten from the centre of the field 20 metres out and into the corner. The try was beautifully caught and Ashley Faulkner scored for PNG. Jarone Clunn missed the kick. PNG extended their lead 10 -4 over Niue.
Just before the end of the first quarter Niue scored another converted try. They went into the break at the end of the first quarter at 10 all.
PNG’s, Jayden Sharp, bustled over the line, in the opening minutes of the second quarter but the referee disallowed it claiming he dropped the ball over the line.
Cruise Ten put through another beautiful kick which saw George Hill score. Clunn failed to convert. PNG 14 – Niue 10.
This was followed by another PNG try. This time it was Jarone Clunn who also converted his own try. This put PNG into a 10 point lead. PNG 20 – Niue 10.
Niue’s Vana Finau, scored off a break by Nuie’s flyer, Tesi Niu who passed it to Finau to score. Unfortunately, they were unable to convert.
The Half Time Score: PNG 20 – Niue 14.
They say many games are won or lost in the third quarter and this game is was no different. Niue lifted a gear, and began to pressure the PNG defence. After a couple of failed attempts early in the third, Niue scored courtesy of Tesi Niu. The converted try made it 20 all. It was anyone’s game.
The unrelenting heat and niggling injuries were beginning to take its toll on the PNG boys and Nuie capitalised on it by scoring a converted try leading into the final quarter. The score Niue 26 – PNG 20.
Unfortunately the PNG boys were unable pull it together sufficiently to withstand the sustained pressure from the Nuie boys, who scored three quick tries in succession. The final score Niue 42 – PNG 20.
The Kokomos boys looked the goods early in the game and really had it in them to win. The heat became a factor for both teams late in the game and it really could have gone either way.
Kokomos Rep player, Jarone Han-Clunn, celebrated his 100th game for Springwood Tigers on the weekend. This is an amazing achievement for a player who is just 16 years old.
Jarone and his team mates at the Tigers also won the U16s 2017 Minor Premiership. Congratulations to you all on this amazing achievement.
We look forward to watching Jarone Han-Clunn carve up for the Kokomos U16s side in the upcoming QPICC carnival representing his PNG cultural heritage.
Congratulations from everyone at QLD PNG Rugby League on your fine achievement!