Vanuatu has recorded a historic Test victory with a hard fought win over test debutants Niue (22 – 20).
Held in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila it came a week after Vanuatu’s first ever Test victory over the Solomon Islands.
The Ni’Vanuatu squad is excited by what this means for the game in Vanuatu and the Pacific.
Vanuatu Captain Samuela Loaloadravu said the team’s performance was outstanding.
“We had to come from behind again and it showed great character from the entire group. We were in the same position against Greece last year and this time we managed to clinch it.”
“To win in front of our home crowd – I couldn’t be happier”.
New Coach David Simpson, coaching his first game on Ni’Vanuatu soil, said it was a challenging game.
“We had to dig to get the win.
“Niue was a very good team comprising of players from high level competitions at NSW Cup, Ron Massey Cup, Holden Cup, ITM Rugby and even the English Super League”.
“To beat a team of that calibre with 11 of our players from the local competitions here in Vanuatu is a true testament to the talent and improvement of our squad over the last 12 months”.
“The atmosphere was electric and I don’t doubt this means very good things for the future of Rugby League in Vanuatu.”
Vanuatu and Niue are both now planning for further fixtures in 2014 in the lead up to the Pacific Games in 2015 and aiming to qualify for the 2017 World Cup.
(followed by Game Stats/ Summary)
Vanuatu 22 (Geoffery Kausei, Joey Meninga, Sam Pierce, Jason Pakoasongi and Joshua Tanner Tries, Joshua Tanner 1/3 and Kunro Kalo 0/2 Goals)
Niue 20 (Chris Ulukita – 2, Kodezz Simeki and Jordan Tongahai Tries. Alex Seini-Edward 2/4 Goals)
Venue: Municipal Stadium , Port Vila (Vanuatu)
Referee: Peter Gough
Man of Match: Geoffery Kausei
By the Clock:
11th Minute: Try Vanuatu (No.16 – Geoffery Kausei). Goal Vanuatu (No.7 – Joshua Tanner)
Vanuatu 6 – Niue 0
15th Minute: Try Vanuatu (No.11 – Joey Meninga)
Vanuatu 10 – Niue 0
35th Minute: Try Niue (No.5 – Chris Ulukita)
Vanuatu 10 – Niue 4
38th Minute: Try Niue (No.3 – Kodezz Simeki). Goal Niue (No.7 – Alex Seini-Edward)
Vanuatu 10 – Niue 10
Half-time: Vanuatu 10 – Niue 10
45th Minute: Try Niue (No.5 – Chris Ulukita). Goal Niue (No.7 – Alex Seini-Edward)
Niue 16 – Vanuatu 10
52nd Minute: Try Vanuatu (No.8 – Sam Pierce)
Niue 16 – Vanuatu 14
67th Minute: Try Niue (No.6 – Jordan Tongahai)
Niue 20 – Vanuatu 14
73rd Minute: Try Vanuatu (No.3 – Jason Pakoasong)
Niue 20 – Vanuatu 18
78th Minute: Try Vanuatu (No.7 – Joshua Tanner)
Vanuatu 22 – Niue 20
Full-time: Vanuatu 22 – Niue 20
1. Alex Marango
2. Alex Phillip
3. Jason Pakoasongi
4. Nelson Law
5. Sweeney Sablan
6. Rob Franklin
7. Joshua Tanner
8. Sam Pierce
9. Kunro Kalo
10. Kalpat Steedman
11. Joey Meninga
12. Ben Titoko
13. Samuela Loaloadravu
14. Julian Wells
15. Tonny Lui
16. Geoffrey Kausei
17. Jean-Pierez Kenie
18. Ben Lui
Coach: David Simpson
1. Zebb Luisi
2. Zayde Alvarado
3. Kodezz Simeki
4. Tooks Jackson
5. Chris Ulukita
6. Jordan Tongahai
7. Alex Seini-Edward
8. Steve Watkinson
9. Tamati Ulukita
10. Tonga Kose
11. Leonale Bourke
12. Bradley Watkinson
13. Mike Filimona
14. Benji Foliola
15. Dave Alo
16. Kody Faletaupule
17. Evander Jackson
18. Joe Fakalogotoa
Coach: Brendan Perenara
Vanuatu started where they left off against the Solomon Islands opening the scoring in the 11th minute when talented 20 year Kunro Kalo playing his first ever game of hooker jumped out of dummy half and draw in several defenders before giving a perfectly timed pass to rampaging interchange forward and eventual man of the match Geoffery Kausei who crashed through several defenders to score under the posts. Following his 24 point haul against the Solomon Islands newly elected vice-captain and halfback Joshua Tanner added the extras to lead 6-0.
Vanuatu extended their lead 5 minutes later when young five-eight Rob Franklin used his speed and footwork to get outside his opponent and deliver the perfect pass to Joey Meninga, Mal Meninga’s nephew, who ran into a hole and past the fullback to score out wide. Following his perfect record with the boot the week before where he kicked 8/8, Joshua Tanner narrowly missed the conversion and Vanuatu led 10-0.
Vanuatu missed several other opportunities to score during this period and ill-discipline gifted a very big and physical Niue team good field position and started to work themselves back into the contest. After gallant online scrambling defence the Vanuatu line finally cracked in the 35th minute when winger Chris Ulukita scored in the left hand corner.
Gaining confidence Niue scored 3 minutes later through centre Kodezz Simeki and with the successful conversion from halfback Alex Seini-Edward, scores were level 10 all at half-time.
Niue continued their charge after the break and scored after only five minutes with winger Chris Ulukita scoring his second try and Alex Seini-Edward adding the extras to give Niue their first lead of the game by 16-10.
Central Capras prop Sam Pierce got Vanuatu back into the contest crashing over next to the posts after more clever work from Kunro Kalo. Kalo was returning to Rugby League after training with the North Queensland Cowboys National Youth Competition squad over the off-season and a successful stint with Townsville Brothers before taking up a professional contract playing Rugby 7’s in Fiji. Joshua Tanner’s conversion bounced off the upright and left Vanuatu trailing by 16 – 14.
Niue took back the advantage in the 67th minute when a dropped intercept by Vanuatu centre Nelson Law which would have seen him race 60 metres to score resulted in Niue picking up the loose ball and scoring out wide through five-eight Jordan Tongahai. The conversion was unsuccessful and Niue led 20-14 with 10 minutes to play.
With a never say die attitude Vanuatu threw everything at the Niue defence and were rewarded in the 73rd minute when a slick backline movement was finished off in the corner by centre Jason Pakoasongi. The try meant Pakoasongi, a 35 year old laywer in Vanuatu has scored in all of Vanuatu’s three Test Matches. Tanner handed over the kicking reigns to Kunro Kalo who had now moved to fullback to allow 18 year old school student and bench utility Julian Wells to come onto the field to make his Test debut. The conversion was unsuccessful and with time running out Vanuatu trailed 20-18.
Niue missed an opportunity to win the game when a midfield break with several players in support but with Vanuatu players emerged from everywhere to force a mistake on the tryline before marching 100 metres up field where Niue finally cracked in the 78th minute when halfback Joshua Tanner reached out to score. It was later revealed Tanner had played on despite tearing his quadriceps during the game. Kalo missed the conversion and Vanuatu appeared to have the game locked up 22-20.
Niue were given one final opportunity and looked set to score after a kick and regather but Vanuatu scrambled well to shut down the first of a number of opportunities Niue had to win the game. Vanuatu finally secured victory when back rower Ben Titoko took an intercept with only seconds remaining and gave Vanuatu their first ever Test victory on home soil.