Niue upset Papua New Guinea on Day One of Sevens Challenge

Sat, Nov 19, 2022, 12:19 PM
Oceania Rugby
by Oceania Rugby
Niue upset Papua New Guinea on day one of 2022 Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge
Niue upset Papua New Guinea on day one of 2022 Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge

The Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge kicked off today, with Pool A of the Men’s competition providing some interesting storylines going into day 2.

Men’s Pool A

Tonga

The Tongan Men’s team arrived knowing that anything short of championship glory would be a disappointment, and their opening match against Australia A definitely made a statement to the rest of the teams in the competition. After conceding 2 unanswered tries, Tonga would go on to achieve a statement victory against the Australians, with tries to John Ika and Atieli Pakalani proving crucial in their comeback. Luckily for Tonga and their fans, their next two games against Vanuatu and Cook Islands would prove to be a lot more comfortable for the men in red, as they notched back-to-back 30 point or more victories.

Results

  • Tonga 22 Def Australia A 21
  • Tonga 39 Def Vanuatu 0
  • Tonga 42 Def Cook Islands 5

Australia

Australia A entered Saturday with arguably the most talented and experienced side in the entire competition, though this didn’t matter when they came up against a Tongan side eager to prove a point. Despite great performances from players such as Louis Werchon and Christopher Yassmin, the Australians fell at the last minute to the Tongans. However, no such upsets occurred when the green and gold faced off against the Cook Islands and Vanuatu.

Results

  • Tonga 22 def Australia A 21
  • Australia A 31 def Cook Islands 5
  • Australia A 34 def Vanuatu 5

Cook Islands

Cook Islands started off their Oceania Sevens campaign with a complete team performance which led to a twenty-two to twelve victory over Vanuatu. The Cook Islands had their fair share of individual brilliance in this game, with the fast feet of King David Packo on full display, as well as young gun Brian Akava showing off some incendiary throughout the match. Unfortunately for the Cook Islands, the rest of Saturday’s games weren’t as much fun, as both Tonga and Australia stemmed the flow of Cook Island’s try scoring theatrics.

Results

  • Cook Islands 22 def Vanuatu 12
  • Australia A 31 def Cook Islands 5
  • Tonga 42 def Cook Islands 5

Vanuatu

It was a tough first day for Vanuatu; however, no one can accuse them of not giving it their all. Their first match against the Cook Islands was their best performance of the day, as they kept it close the entire match, thanks in part to a standout performance from Alex Tagavo who had the try assist of the day, running the length of the field to set up his captain, Toara Reuben, for a try. Their matches against Tonga and Australia A both resulted in substantial losses, however there are plenty of positives that Vanuatu can take from yesterday’s performances.

Results

  • Cook Islands 22 def Vanuatu 12
  • Tonga 39 def Vanuatu 0
  • Australia A 34 def Vanuatu 5

Men’s Pool B

Pool B of the Men’s competition provided some incredible upsets, and incredible underdog stories to watch going into day two.

Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands came out playing incredibly physical as they looked to send a message to Niue. It’s safe to say that the message was well received, as the Solomon Islands dominated Niue pulling away to a thirty-point victory, with a spectacular performance from Gahan Tu’ata in particular. The good times kept rolling for the Solomon Islands, as they took care of business against minnows Kiribati before falling to a red-hot Papua New Guinean side to end the day.

Results

  • Solomon Islands 35 def Niue 5
  • Solomon Islands 55 def Kiribati 0
  • Papua New Guinea 27 def Solomon Islands 5

Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea may be leaving Hugh Courtney Oval with a bittersweet feeling, knowing that they can do better than what they did. Facing Kiribati in their first match up, they kept their foot on the accelerator the whole match, almost notching eighty points in fourteen minutes, however this huge win may have given the Puk Puks too much confidence. Coming up against Niue, they were seen as big favourites before Eliud Hosea was shown a red card. t just wasn’t to be for the Puk Puks as they succumbed to an inspired Niue side, suffering a devastating and unexpected loss. Papua New Guinea were luckily able to make amends against the Solomon Islands to end the day on a positive note.

Results

  • PNG 78 def Kiribati 0
  • Niue 14 def PNG 12
  • PNG 35 def Solomon Islands 5

Kiribati

Arriving as their nations first ever national rugby side, Kiribati made history just by stepping on the field. The score lines of their matches reflected Kiribati’s lack of experience, however there was clear improvement in their performances with every match played. Kiribati will be a team to watch in the coming years as their rugby program improves, as well as being everyone’s second team to cheer for.

Results

  • PNG 78 def Kiribati 0
  • Solomon Islands 55 def Kiribati 0
  • Niue 46 def Kiribati 0

Niue

Niue left the end of the first day as the happiest team in the competition. After a disappointing performance against the Solomon Islands, the small island nation responded in the best way possible, upsetting tournament heavyweights Papua New Guinea with an incredible performance. Niue finished their day with a strong defeat of Kiribati and will enter day two with great momentum as they look to be a Cinderella team heading into the play off matches.

Results

  • Solomon Islands 35 def Niue 5
  • Niue 14 def PNG 12
  • Niue 46 def Kiribati 0

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