Papua New Guinea Womens and Tonga Mens declared winners of the Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge

Tue, Nov 22, 2022, 11:30 PM
Oceania Rugby
by Oceania Rugby

Women’s Competition

Day 2 of the Oceania Sevens Challenge kicked off with the remaining women’s pool games being played in order to sort out seeding for the finals.

Vanuatu entered day two knowing they had nothing to lose and everything to gain following some heavy losses the day prior, and their first performance against Tonga reflected this mentality. After conceding some early points, the Vanuatuan’s struck back through Hannah Taiwia, resulting in some deafening cheers from the Vanuatuan bench. Unfortunately, despite their best-efforts Vanuatu would go onto to be defeated by Tonga, as well as Papua New Guinea in their final match in the pool stages.

Samoa’s first match of the day was against an underrated Cook Islands side looking to cause some upsets before the finals. The Cook Islands came out firing in the early minutes, but just couldn’t crack Samoa’s formidable defensive line, and eventually Samoa was able to counter-attack through Linda Fiafia who raced down the sideline to give Samoa the lead. Ultimately Samoa prevailed over a gutsy Cook Islands side, as well as winning comfortably against the Solomon Islands to close out their pool matches.

Day two didn’t go to plan for the Solomon Islands. They were always going to have trouble coming up against Samoa and Papua New Guinea back-to-back to start the day, and to no one’s surprise they were on the receiving end of some huge scores.

The Tongans excelled in their last pool matches, putting on some serious clinics against their opponents. Against Vanuatu Fakanonoa Manumua was incredible, facilitating the girls around the park with amazing composure, allowing livewires such as Florence Hakalo to stun those in attendance with her incredible footwork. Vanuatu were able to put up a fight, however Tonga never looked nervous as they cruised to a win over Vanuatu as well as taking care of the Cook Islands to close out their pool matches.

Papua New Guinea breezed through their last matches in the pool stage, scoring points at will against Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Star player Naomi Kelly was up to her usual standards, demolishing defences with damaging runs.

Women's Finals

Following the pool stage, each team was seeded according to their results, with two games dictating the final positions, before a thunderstorm washed out the championship final between Samoa and Papua New Guinea.

First up were the Solomon Islands taking on Vanuatu. Standout performer Ella Puia opened the Solomon Islands account with an incredible length of the field try. The rest of the match was more of the same from the Solomon Islands, who avoided a last place finished with a win over Vanuatu.

Next was an incredible example of free-flowing rugby between Tonga and the Cook Islands. Finding the lead first, Tonga was in the driver’s seat during the first half. However, within the first minute of the second half Tonga conceded a yellow card and try within the same play, leaving the door open for a Cook Islands comeback. Luckily for the Tongans, they were able to hold on long enough to secure a third-place finish, just scraping past the Cook Islands.

Unfortunately, the Women’s Sevens Challenge Final between Papua New Guinea and Samoa had to be abandoned due to sever weather. Therefore, in accordance with the Tournament rules, whoever scored the most points over the weekend would be declared the winner. Consequently, Papua New Guinea Womens were declared the winners due to having the most Tournament points during the pools and knock out rounds.

The official ranking for the Oceania Rugby Women’s 7s Challenge are as follows:

  1. Papua New Guinea
  2. Samoa
  3. Tonga
  4. Cook Islands
  5. Solomon Islands
  6. Vanuatu

As the top ranked team in the Women’s Challenge, Papua New Guinea have qualified to represent Oceania at the 2023 World Rugby Challenger Series.

Men’s Finals Day two of the Oceania Sevens Challenge saw the finals of the Men’s competition affected by some turbulent weather washing out the most important games of the day.

The Quarter Finals kicked off day two of the Men’s competition, with Niue and Cook Islands taking centre stage first up. Despite plenty of chances, Niue was unable to capitalise on their error-prone opponents and would eventually be unable to compete with the Cook Islands once they managed to hold onto the ball.

Next up was a heavyweight bout between Australia A and Papua New Guinea. The Puk Puks were unable to take the lead early, squandering a chance to score from kick off, a mistake which they’d immediately regret as Jordan-Lee Bacon would put the Australians in the lead following a length of the field try. Papua New Guinea would spend the whole game chasing this lead, ultimately falling by three tries to Australia.

The third quarter final would see the Solomon Islands dominate a struggling Vanuatuan side. Despite a courageous performance from Johnron Ronneth, Vanuatu could never seem to gain territory consistently, having their plays consistently read by a persistent Solomon Islands defensive unit. Mathew Qwahna of the Solomon Islands was arguably man of the match, scoring an unbelievable try out of nothing in the first half.

The last quarter final was no surprise. Tournament heavyweights Tonga had their way with an inexperienced Kiribati side who did their best to prevent a cricket score.

After the quarter finals were the semi-finals, which were broken up into two groups. First were the teams in 5th-8th position, followed by those in 1st-4th position.

Australia A faced Niue in the first semi-final, which may as well have been a training run for the Australians. They dominated from the first minute to the fourteenth, running up a huge score against a deflated Niue side.

Vanuatu and Kiribati were next up, with the Vanuatuan’s easily taking care of the visibly exhausted Kiribatians. Starman Alex Tagavo had a day out, playing at a much higher level than anyone else on the pitch.

The third semi-final of the day saw Papua New Guinea play the Cook Islands. The Puk Puks shot themselves in the foot early, conceding an unnecessary yellow card. Despite this, their defence remained as tenacious as ever as they were able scrape a win past a valiant Cook Islands side.

A veteran performance from John Ika saw the Tongans march to a convincing win over the Solomon Islands in the fourth semi-final. Ika was able to assist multiple tries for prolific young gun Kyren Taumoefolau, as the Solomon Islands were simply helpless against the might of the Tongan side.

Finally, the last games of the Oceania Sevens Challenge were played to dictate the final finishing positions of all eight sides.

First up was seventh versus eighth as Niue faced Kiribati. As expected, Niue won comfortably against the minnows, however this doesn’t mean that Kiribati left the field upset. Late in the first half, Tambwereti Arimaere scored a try for Kiribati, their first ever national try which saw everyone in attendance on their feet cheering for the pacific underdogs. A truly historic day for Kiribati, they would still ultimately lose to Niue by some margin, finishing last in the challenege.

The final match of the day, Australia A beat Vanuatu in a match which was abandoned halfway due to inclement weather.

In accordance with Tournament rules, Australia A was declared the winner due to most tries scored during match leading up to abandonment.

The Match between Cook Islands and Solomon Islands was abandoned before commencement. Solomon Islands was declared the winner on this match due to having the most Tournament Points accrued during pool and knockout rounds.

The Men’s Championship match was abandoned before the match commencement due to sever weather. Therefore, in accordance with Tournament rules, Tonga Men’s was declared the winner, due to having the most points are the pool and knock out rounds.

The official ranking for the 2022 Oceania Rugby Men’s 7s Challenge is as follows:

  1. Tonga
  2. Papua New Guinea
  3. Solomon Islands
  4. Cook Islands
  5. Australia A
  6. Vanuatu
  7. Niue
  8. Kiribati

As the top two ranks teams in the Men’s 7s Challenge, Tonga and Papua New Guinea Men’s have qualified to represent Oceania at the 2023 World Rugby Challenger Series.