Clash of the titans

Normal, Sports

The National, Thursday 01st December 2011

AFTER a rousing 75-point thrashing of the undersized Vanuatu Tuskers (78-3) in the first round of the Oceania Cup on Tuesday, the PNG Pukpuks have a tougher assignment today – the Solomon Islands.
Warriors captain Corey Chapman, 28, said the Pukpuks were a “very physical team” and played well but he was quietly confident his side would be successful if they followed their game plan.
“They (Pukpuks) were looking good, a very physical team and it should be a good game tomorrow (today),” Chapman said.
But Chapman, who stands at 192cm and weighs 115kg, said he wanted his quicker men to play a big role in the match.
“The plan is to give our backs more time with the ball, we’re going to spread the ball out wide,” the New Zealand-born No. 8 said.
Chapman agreed that his pack would have to match the Pukpuk forwards and control the pace of the game to give the Warriors a chance.
“We’ll have to match them up front first and then give it to our backs to finish it off.
“We’ll try our best. If we stick to our game plan we should be alright,” Chapman said.
The Warriors defeated the Niue Ugas in the opener 22-19 with three of their four tries scored by Chapman and lock Fredson Soaki (2).
Soaki admitted their first match was mistake-riddled but they managed to out-play the Polynesians with a little help from the conditions.
The tank-like Soaki, who is reportedly 140kg, said the Warriors adjusted better to the conditions and this helped his team.
“The Niueans were quite tough and the game was scrappy but we ran them out in the first half and went on with it,” Soaki said.
Meanwhile, Pukpuks coach Shane Howarth was diplomatic in his appraisal of the Solomon  Islanders saying his side would not be taking them lightly.
“They’re (Warriors) a good team and will absolutely come out hard at us but we just need to control the ball and play smart rugby,” Howarth said.
“Defensively we have to be smarter because they will be more physical (than Vanuatu).”
In a clear indication of how seriously Howarth is taking the game, the former Auckland Blues assistant coach made several changes to his line-up injecting experience and pace to his match day 22.
Howarth’s tactical changes include three members of his sevens team with veteran Douglas Guise coming into scrumhalf in place of three-try hero Kumalau Auru.
Tisa Kautu comes in at centre pushing Emmanual Auru to second-five and speedster Chris Kakah comes onto the wing for Emmanuel Guise.
There are two changes to the pack with wide-running Billy Torea displacing Leme Tole at blindside flanker and Posolok Chauka, 19, getting a call up after hooker Kapua Kapua withdrew on compassionate grounds.
Kapua is replaced by Westley Thomas.
The Pukpuks: Shane Amean, Posolok Chauka, Adrain Dixon, Gabriel Biyama, Philip Suapo, Billy Torea, Raymond Vagi (vc), George Hoki, Douglas Guise, Wesley Rooney, Andrew Samson, Emmanuel Auru, Tisa Kautu, Chris Kakah and Jonah Kautu Jr (c).
The reserves: Shane Koal, Westley Thomas, Aaron Miai, Christopher Namani, Kumalau Auru, Francis Maso and Emmanuel Guise.