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.