The National, Monday July 15th, 2013
THE Solomon Islands finished their 2013 FORU campaign with an entertaining 23-22 win over Tahiti on Saturday.
The third-place playoff saw the Hunters go to a 6-0 lead early on off the boot of Philemon Campbell.
Skipper, and eventual man-of-the-match, Corey Chapman scored in the corner in the 31st minute for an 11-0 lead and the Solomon Islanders looked ready to run up a score but handling errors and some good scrambling defence put paid to that notion.
Tahiti’s backline could not get going with passing an issue but where they failed, their pack made up for the deficiency with a strong scrum coupled with a good rucking game.
Tahiti No.8 Manuari’I Richmond hit back with two tries for his side to lead 12-11 at halftime.
Richmond was again Johnny-on-the-spot when a mistimed line-out throw found him with no one in front for the simplest of tries to start the second half scoring.
At 19-11 ahead, Tahiti seemed to be in the box seat midway through the second 40 but Solomons winger Steve Momoa saw daylight and took it scoring off an overlap.
Tahait flyhalf Alexandre Fournier kicked a penalty to take his side to a 22-16 lead in the 68th minute.
Solomon Islands lacked the finishing touch to capitalise on several strong surges by centres Steve Buamae and Reagan Pitabelama but the try of the tournament and the match-winner was scored by an interchange of passing between the Solomon Islands tight-five which saw the blues break from their side of halfway through hooker Grant Hou before linking up tight-head Watkin Rangi on an angled run before handing off to Sisaro Maitaki who fed 132kg loose-head Fredson Pukefenua who crashed over under the posts in the 75th minute.
Solomon Islands 23 (C Chapman, S Momoa, F Pukefenua tries; P Campbell 1 con, 3 pen) Tahiti 22 (M Richmond 3 tries; A Fournier 1 con, 1 pen). HT: 12-11 (Tahiti) at Lloyd Robson Oval, Port Moresby.