Papua New Guinea beat Niue in the final round of the Oceania Cup to claim the title for 2011 at the Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby.
The tournament featured four nations - PNG, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Niue – and provided exciting competition from start to finish.
Despite going unbeaten through the first two rounds, the Pukpuks still had to win on the final match day to claim to the Cup with Niue and Solomon islands still in the hunt, and ultimately proved their class to raise the trophy.
Reporting from oceaniarugby.com
Niue 7-36 Papua New Guinea
The fierce war dance performed by the Niueans and the defiant stance of the Papua New Guineans prior to kick-off set the tone for the final encounter of the Oceania Cup, as the sound of the two teams smashing into each other from the start riveted deep into the stands.
Any ascendency the Pukpuk forwards had in the previous rounds was quickly quashed by the fired-up Niueans as they flung themselves at the Pukpuks in the opening 10 minutes of the match.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 18th minute, Chris Kakah crossing for a try near the touchline after some quick hands by his inside men. Wesley Rooney failed to convert and the Pukpuks had an early five-point lead.
Number 8 Billy Torea scooped up the ball from the scrum base to power his way through and this time Rooney slotted the ball between the uprights to hand the Pukpuks a handy 12-point lead at the break.
Lock Phillip Suapo’s converted effort at the start of the second half put the hosts in control at 19-0 and, with the Niueans clearly tiring, Rooney snatched a try of his own. There was a consolation try for Niuean winger Makavilitogia but PNG replacement Kumalau Auru crossed to seal a convincing win, and the 2011 Oceania Cup.
Vanuatu 20-48 Solomon Islands
Earlier, the Solomon Island Warriors’ intentions were clear when they scored after only three minutes against Vanuatu, skipper Corey Chapman giving them a 7-0 lead.
The Warriors dominated up front and seemed to break the advantage line at will from some cleverly structured driving play from ruck ball, which frustrated the Vanuatu Tuskers. Poor handling frustrated their progress but they soon strolled over for their second try to full back Tengemoana and lock Fredson Soaki added a third shortly afterwards.
The Tuskers suddenly sprung into action and were able to pounce onto loose ball from a clearance kick to snatch a try out wide to winger Patrick August. The Warriors struck back almost immediately, though, and added two tries to midfielder Pitabelama and wing Kaituhu for a healthy half time lead, 31-5.
Vanuatu came out of the blocks with some vigour and proved more difficult to penetrate after the break. Lock Yona Gale scored for them much to the crowd’s delight, but the Solomon Islands managed to hold sway and Fredson Soaki’s second try late on cemented a 48-20 victory.