PNG claim shield at Gold Coast 7s

Normal, Sports

The National, Monday 28th November 2011

THE PNG sevens team managed to claim a piece of silverware from the Gold Coast 7s on Saturday defeating Japan 31-19 in the Shield final.
PNG were drawn in a very challenging pool (C) with Samoa, France and Argentina.
The team captained by veteran Douglas Guise had regulars Albert Levi Jr, Monty Diave, Henry Liliket, Shadrach Ghabiliha, Eugene Tokavai, Tisa Kautu and Chris Kakah forming the nucleus.
Brisbane-based flanker Alistair McLay was brought in to complement recent additions Billy Torea, Gairo, Varo and Jason Missian in coach Shane Howarth’s 12-man team.
PNG started their tournament badly on Friday losing 33-0 to Argentina in their first game before going down to Samoa 38-0 in their second match.
PNG scored their first points of the tournament in their 33-5 loss to France to complete the pool phase.
On day two (Saturday) PNG lost to USA 24-5 in the Bowl quarter-finals which saw them move down to contest the Shield.
The Shield semi-final against fellow rugby minnows Niue saw the Pukpuks unleash their flair and pace thumping the Polynesians 38-0.
Tries to Levi (2), Diave, Kautu, Missian and Liliket had PNG through to the final against Japan who edged Kenya 19-14 in the other semi.    
Japan led 12-7 at half time with tries to 18-year-old Yoshikazu Fujita and Takayuki Yamauchi while Liliket scored a converted try.
Speedster Levi opened the scoring in the first minute of the second half before going in again to give PNG a 17-12 lead.
Playmaker Guise extended the lead to 24-12 with a well-worked try at 4:41 of the half.
Japan looked set for a comeback when Fujita raced in to close the margin at 24-19 with  three minutes to go before Kautu scored a converted try at 7:28.
PNG’s next tournament on the IRB circuit will be the Wellington 7s in February in New Zealand.
Meanwhile coach Howarth and several players from his sevens squad will now turn their attention to the Oceania FORU Cup in Port Moresby which starts tomorrow.
The players joining the Pukpuks squad are Guise, Kautu, Torea,  and Kakah.