CIRLA competition coordinator Taua Benioni was pleased with how the last week’s two-day tournament turned out for participating teams and their supporters.
He said the tournament served its purpose of giving the local clubs a good build-up ahead of the domestic weekly league.
Queensland Kukis won the title and $5000 prize money after an intense battle on Saturday at the BCI Stadium.
The side from Brisbane, Australia defeated Arorangi Bears 12-5 in the final.
Benioni said it was not an easy win for the Queensland Kukis against the emerging Bears who seem to have their claws out and ready to snare the title this year.
He said despite being penalised on day one for failing to comply with the competition rules and regulations, the Kevin Iro-coached Bears remained on track to make it through to the showdown.
The Bears had two points deducted for failing to meet the standard set for the playing strip.
“After hearing that they had been penalised along with TKV Warriors and two match points had been deducted off their tally, the Bears kept calm and focused on just winning and it wasn’t an easy task going all the way to the finals,” Benioni said.
“Malcolm Uri’s (Queensland Kukis) boys didn’t have an easy task getting into the final as well, especially after last year’s champions, the Eels drew with them 4-all in the round competition but lost in the semis (14-15) after being ahead by two tries.
“All teams showed what’s in for the season coming, and preparation is the key.
“Once again thank you to the Queensland coaching and administrators. Thanks for making this trip and don’t forget it’s game on for 2019.”
Benioni also thanked the sponsors for the lucrative prize money which helped improve the competition level.
“A big thanks to Bluesky for donating our major grand final prize money of $5000 and also contributing in-kind sponsorship of $3000,” he said.
“We also thank Vonnias and Yvonne Heather for not only sponsoring the second placing, but also helping bring our referees from New Zealand and sponsoring 160 t-shirts for our junior Nines players.”
Benioni also thanked other sponsors including Tourism Cook Islands for paying to bring over the Asia Pacific Rugby League International Federation provider for coaching, Shane Whitton.
“We also acknowledge the support of Palace Takeaways, Papa Pat Parakoti, Grant Priest, Mike Mouauri, Mama Rose and Ria’s Tepuka Store and our overseas sponsor, Mick and Di’s company Predrill (Australia).
“A huge meitaki maata to you all for your huge contribution in making this event successful.
“Thanks also to Ministry of Cultural Development, Anthony Turua and your team, MCs Nia Heather and George George as well as Robert Graham for their support.”