Crunch time

Main Stories, Sports


A PHYSICAL battle is expected at the Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby on Sunday, when giant killers in the inaugural SP Brewery Pacific Cup, Cook Islands, tackle hosts Telikom PNG Kumuls or the top honours and a place in next year’s Four Nations tournament.
Both camps are determined to make it to the next level and have trained hard throughout the week.
What can be more motiviating than striving to join the elite club of rugby league super powers, New Zealand, Australia and England next year in the Four Nations series?
Kumuls captain John Wilshire and coach Adrian Lam are wary of the challenge ahead and admitted yesterday during a press conference that the Cook Islands were the toughest side in the tournament.
“We are not taking this game lightly,” Wilshere said.
According to the Kumuls captain, the two teams are filled with young guns raring to make their mark and their experienced teammates are not disappointed thus far.
“They have performed to expectations and Sunday’s game will not doubt see them lift a gear,” he said.
The Telikom PNG Kumuls line-up will be slightly different from the side that whipped Tonga 44-14 last Sunday.
They will be making at least two changes in the line-up due to niggling injuries sustained from last weekend’s match.
Agmark NGIP Guria captain George Moni will be  in the starting line-up to beef up the home side’s forward pack against their much heavier Cook Islands opponents.
Lam also hinted that the Kumuls had worked at improving few patchy areas during training this week which they believe the David Farleigh’s boys could exploit for their greater advantage. He also added that the Kumuls have been in camp for almost six weeks and have gelled well with each other.
“They are looking fit and raring to go as a team against the “shockers” Cook Islands.
Meanwhile, Cook Islands mentor Farleigh, shared similar sentiments and admitted that it will be a very physical encounter as the two teams will be basing their chances on ball security and running up the middle.
He said his players will need to lift their game if they want to pinch the Pacific Cup at the end of the game.
“The Kumuls will certainly be hard to stop on their own turf in front of their vocal home crowd,” he said.
Cook Islands’ inspirational captain Tere Glassie is optimistic that his freshly blooded troop will dish out the same treatment to the Kumuls as they did to Samoa and Fiji in their fairytale run to the Pacific Cup tournament finals.
“It will be a shock of sorts for me and our people back home for us to lift the Pacific Cup on Sunday but it will be a pleasant sort of a shock,” Glassie said.
He admitted that it will be a tough and brutal encounter as PNG were entering as the Pacific Cup decider as favourites.
In the minor placings play-off, tournament favourites Tonga are raring to avenge their humiliating loss to the Kumuls, but their opponents, the Fiji Batis are also in the same frame of mind after their last minute 24-22 loss to the Cooks last Saturday.
Hence their encounter tomorrow looms as a battle royale as each team attempt to stay ahead of the other in the game and the rankings.