Pukpuks rise

Normal, Sports

The National, Friday 02nd December 2011

THE PNG Pukpuks were given a strong test, particularly in the first half by the Solomon Island Warriors in yesterday’s Oceania Cup second round before skipping away to a 33-15 win in Port Moresby.
The home side’s class, speed and superior stamina eventually proved the difference despite a highly competitive battle at the breakdowns.
The win saw PNG collect the bonus point and in first place with 10 points while Niue, who defeated the Vanuatu 33-13 in the earlier game, are second on six followed by the Warriors (5) and the Tuskers (0).
The Ugas have a chance of winning the tournament if they can defeat PNG and deny the homeside a bonus point in tomorrow’s final match.
Good to his pre-match words, Warriors’ captain Corey Chapman’s side matched the Pukpuks in the first half and led 10-8 with the No. 8 scoring in the 38th minute.
The Pukpuks, playing only their second match as a team, had gone ahead 5-0 in the 4th minute when winger Chris Kakah scored in the corner.
Warriors halfback Felix Galo slotted a penalty to bring his side to within two at 5-3 before a fight broke out in the 15th minute. It ended with Pukpuk centre Tisa Kautu and his opposite Roman Toneaka being sin-binned.
Pukpuks skipper Jonah Kautu kicked a penalty not long after to edge further in front, 8-3.
But the going was anything but easy for the Pukpuk forwards who were shaded in the set pieces.
Chapman’s try came off a win against the feed from a defensive scrum on the Pukpuk 5m line – highlighting the importance of Brisbane-based tighthead Adrian Dixon, who was an early casualty injuring his left knee in the 5th minute.
Pukpuks coach Shane Howarth was disappointed with the first half effort saying PNG were trying to do “too much” instead of “taking care of the ball”.
“We just didn’t look after the ball and the Solomon Islands showed they would make use of their chances,” Howarth said.
After a stern talking to at half time the locals looked to pick up the pace in the second stanza.
Conversely, the Solomon Islands seemed to lose their focus giving away cheap possession through mistakes, penalties and a poor kicking game.
But the best was yet to come as the Pukpuks outside backs ran-amok scoring four successive tries with  wingers Andrew Samson (2) and Kakah (2) in scintillating form over a 20 minute period.
Blindside flanker Billy Torea ensured the backs were not the only ones on the score book bagging a try in the 65th minute.
Despite kickers Kautu Jr, Wesley Rooney and Tisa Kautu unable to complement the try-scoring,  PNG had the game won by then.
To their credit the Warriors continued to compete into the later stages although the drop-off in intensity was noticeable.
Chapman said he was satisfied with the match and was proud of his boys.
However, he admitted they were not as effective in the second half.
Warriors lock Fredson Soaki scored his third try of the tournament when he bulldozed his way over in the 76th minute giving his side the last say in what was the best match of the Oceania Cup.
Tomorrow’s matches sees Solomon Islands take on Vanuatu in the first game while PNG faces Niue.