QLD PNG Rugby League played host to Cook Islands and Tongan teams in preparation for the Queensland Pacific Islands Cultural Carnival to be held at Bill Norris Oval at Beenleigh next weekend. The trial matches, also at Bill Norris Oval, showcased some amazing rugby league talent.
U18’s QLD PNG v QLD Cook Is.
The opening match was between the U18’s QLD PNG and u18’s QLD Tonga. PNG survived an early scare with Dominic Noo making a 60m run towards the line but fortunately for PNG, LJ Waddups was able to run him down and forcing him to pass under pressure which allowed PNG to recover the ball. Soon after John Wame kicked the ball into the corner and was picked up by Courtney Wanma put the opening points on the board with Waddups converting to make it 6-nil to PNG.
Spencer, the Cook Islands winger, quickly responded with a try after a 50 metre run down the wing, outsprinting the opposition defenders. This put the score at 6-4 to PNG.
The Cook Islands scored again after another raid into the corner had them hard up against the line and a hail-mary pass over the head landed in the hands of Jason Rolfe who crossed for another 4 points.
PNG’s Joel Gittins quickly hit back with a try under the posts making it an easy 2 points for Waddup. This was followed by a well constructed team try taking the score to PNG 12 – CI 8.
After a series of dropped balls & missed kicks, PNG recovered to score another well constructed team try with Wame crossing again and Waddups adding the extras. The teams went into the halftime break with PNG leading the Cook Islanders 22- 8.
The opening passages of play saw PNG’s Braidyn Annakin off with a shoulder injury, but PNG forged ahead with Gittins crossing for his second try of the day and Waddup slotting another making it 28-8.
Gittins made it a hatrick just minutes later with an awesome run down the wing. The Cook Islanders however had no thoughts of conceding defeat and Brad Frith sidestepped several PNG defenders and added another four pointer for them taking it to 32-12 after they failed to convert and was quickly followed by another converted try by Josh Skeen after a series of incredible individual plays.
Richie Tengdui weaved his way through traffic and forced his way over the line after a bustling run. Soon after Wanma pulled off an amazing intercept at the 30m mark and ran like the wind with three of the Cook Island players on his tail. They managed to pull him down a metre from the line, but fortunately for Wanma, momentum carried him over the line.
This was topped up by another couple from Gittins, who bagged a total of five tries for the day which earned him Man of the Match and PNG were able to close out the game with a 54-18 victory over their Cook Island counterparts.
QLD Men’s Open B’s V Eagleby Giants
This was an opportunity for the Mens B side to hit out with new competition entrants the Eagleby Giants. The Giants opened the account just three minutes into the match with Tai Halalini scoring and Jarred Joinbee kicking the conversion.
PNGs Alex Ambia sidestepped several Giants but forward pass cost PNG a sure try. PNG continued to apply pressure which saw Shawn Wickham follow up with a four pointer and Moses Lohia made sure of the conversion, putting them at 6 a piece.
Steve Franciscus made a break offloading with deft hands and timing to Tengdui who flicked the ball off to Michael Dodi who made sure to put the ball under the posts to make it another easy 2 pointer for Lohia. PNG Kokomos went into half time with a 12-6 lead over the Giants.
The second half opened with Dodi dodging and weaving his way down the sideline between it and the Giants defenders. He slid over the line making it his second try for the day. Ambia, making amends for his earlier forward pass, sidestepped the Eableby boys and outran them to the line with sheer pace.
Another try not long after to Dodi put the PNG Mens B side ahead 24 -12. Rae Neville added another. In the dying minutes of the game Thomas Taylor made a bullocking run, offloading to Jimmy De La Cruz who crossed the line for the Giants. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to fend off a PNG win with the final score 30-16.
The Man of the Match Award went to PNG’s Michael Dodi who scored a hatrick of tries.
U14/15’s QLD PNG Kokomos vs QLD Tonga
This match opened with Tonga doing their version of the Haka much to the obvious delight of the crowd. With the preliminaries over, this game proved to be a tight tussle between the two teams and in many ways outshone the other games on the programme.
Such was the tightness of the match that the first points on the board were not scored until well into the first half. Tonga were the first to draw blood with David Matoko scoring. The conversion was unsuccessful and the half time score was 4-0 to Tonga.
PNG hit back after half time with Shawn Hoeller making the break and offloading to Cruise Ten, who incredibly caught the ball at his feet, making it 4 all. Ten backed up with a second try a few minutes later with Hayden Herd collecting the extras for PNG and putting them ahead 10-4.
But Tonga continued to play strong, disciplined football – as did PNG. Tonga hit back with a converted try by Mathias Smally. Tesi Nui added the two points in windy conditions making it 10 all.
It really could have gone either way at this stage, however a poorly executed short kick off cost PNG dearly. It allowed Tonga’s Carlos Knox to score and again they made sure of the crucial extra two points.
In the closing minutes PNG regained their discipline and refused to give in and they were rewarded for their efforts with a try by Bobby Tau. With just two points between them it was essential PNG’s Herd kicked the final conversion but unfortunately missed out on the extra two points handing a 16-14 victory to the Tongan’s.
Tonga’s Carlos Knox was awarded the Man of the Match.
Mens A QLD PNG Kokomos vs QLD Tonga
The day’s programme culminated with the Mens Open ‘A’ Kokomos taking on QLD Tonga. Mark Mathies opened the account for the Kokomos with a try in the first few minutes of the match but Tonga hit back with Matt Falesi’u scoring and Simione Fatefeh converting. Tuhulu Isile- Fo’ou scored another try for Tonga but unfortunately Fatefeh hit the post bouncing back into the infield.
Midway through the first half the crowd were treated to the surprise return of PNG Kumul legend, Elias Paiyo. I’m sure many were wondering how the 43 year old would go mixing it with 20 plus aged players and it didn’t take long to get their answers. After Tries by Eli Wickham. McKenzie Mura and captain, Harry Lohia, PNG went into the half time break with a 22- 14 lead.
Tonga, keen to narrow the margin early in the second half, saw Pone Laulu awarded with 10 in the bin after a late tackle. Despite being a man down Tonga managed to score with Suli Sefokuli going over.
PNG’s relentless pressure was rewarded with a try by Eli Wickham with Steve Franciscus converting. PNG made it another quick converted try taking the score to 34-18.
For those left wondering whether Paiyo still had what it takes to mix it with the ‘big boys’ the answer was a resounding ‘yes’. Paiyo did what he does best, running the angles and busting the line he was responsible for another PNG 4 pointer.
Paiyo then helped set up Franciscus for another with then kicked the conversion from in front taking the score to 44-18.
Late in the second half Franciscus made a break and looked to pass, the pass went to ground and Eli Wickham kicked the ball forward and chased it. The ball bounced up into his hands and he went over for another PNG try.
PNG ran out winners in a 50-18 win over their Tongan counterparts. Eli Wickham was awarded Man of the Match.
QLD PNG Rugby League Match Report.