Pukpuks finish fourth


PAPUA New Guinea lost 11-38 to Zimbabwe in their final match of the Cup of Nations rugby union tournament in Hong Kong on Saturday.
The Pukpuks finished in the four-team competition while Russia beat Hong Kong to finish on top while the hosts claimed second spot and Zimbabwe third.
PNG coach Sydney Wesley said the Pukpuks would have benefitted from the experience despite finishing last.
“We can take a lot from this tournament. The standard of the other teams will go a long way towards developing our rugby. It is a lot tougher than our competition back home, the biennial FORU tournament,” Wesley said.
“This week has helped us identify some areas to work on. We need to improve our set piece and our scrums and lineouts. We will work hard on these areas leading up to the FORU Cup next year. Hopefully we will perform well there and get an invite back to this tournament. I am sure that with more game time we would come back a lot better and stronger,” Wesley added.
The Africans outran and outmuscled PNG after a 13-8 lead at halftime.
The Pukpuks took an early lead after a penalty from fullback and captain Tisa Kautu, but Zimbabwe reclaimed the lead after No.8 Njabulo Ndhlovu’s try in the 7th minute.
Winger James Lumaris pulled PNG level in the 19th minute, but Zimbabwe built steam from then on, with a try from winger Tafadzwa Chotokwindo and a penalty from fullback Lenience Tambwera, giving them a 13-8 lead at the break.
The second half was one-way traffic as Zimbabwe found gaps in the Pukpuks mid-field defence to run in a further three tries while Tambwera added two more penalties.
Zimbabwe coach Cyprian Mandenge was pleased to cap off a fruitful week with a win, saying: “We are improving with every game. We got a result today, but there are a lot of areas we want to polish. We are losing too much possession and some of our decision-making was poor.
“But it’s good to finish with a win. We didn’t win last year, so I’m happy. There is some progress, but our big problem is that we lack game time,” Mandenge said.
“This is only our fourth game of 2016 and that’s not good enough. We want to play more games, which is why tournaments like this are so important.”
Russia’s 27-0 victory over the hosts secured their second straight Cup of Nations title in Hong Kong after the defending champions won all three matches beating Zimbabwe (19-15) and Papua New Guinea (49-19) earlier in the week.
The score line flattered the champions to a degree with the game evenly contested apart from the first and last ten minutes of the game.
Standings: Russia 14, Hong Kong 10, Zimbabwe 7, PNG 0. – HKrugby

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