In the much anticipated clash, it was the visitors that ran away with the 10-0 lead after consecutive tries from Noah Eastern and William Samuels in the third and the sixth minutes, respectively.
Their early dominance left the home team in tatters as the Residents tried to mount attack to get on the scoreboard.
After a string of superb plays, Kayal Iro, youngest son of former Kiwi international Kevin Iro, produced a moment of magic, slicing his way through Ozzie defenders to score a brilliant try in the corner in the 15th minute. The host trailed 4-10.
Ozzie Cooks extended their lead in the 20th minute from outside centre Eastern, who crashed beside the sticks for his second try. Sato Opo added the extras to make it 16-4.
Young Kayal stepped up again for the Residents with another scintillating piece of play – collecting a loose ball from his own half and dashing about 85 metres to score under the post in the 24th minute. With Junior Kiriau’s successful conversion, the Residents cushioned the deficit to 10-16.
With possession in hand, the Residents crossed the line again, and this time through Julius Vaetaru, who combined superbly with orchestrator James Strickland to level the match 16-all, in the 30th minute.
Three minutes later, robust centre Andre Iro, Kayal’s older brother, barged his way through, assisting Kane Kamana, who scored Residents fourth try to head into the break with a 22-16 lead.
Ozzie Cookies started the second spell on a high, scoring a try early after the restart, through Eric Newbigging to level the match 22-all.
The Residents replied in the 48th minute through Strickland, who was well set up by Tua Ravula, to score in the comer. With the extras from Kiriau, Residents led 28-22.
With momentum in their side, Residents extended their lead further to 32-22 when Kamana scored his second. Oswell Tunupoupou and Toru Katuke did the hard yards which led to this try.
A mistake by the Residents cost them dearly after Josh Minhinick touched down a kick in the in goal area which was left unattended by the local side. Ozzie Cookies trailed 28-32.
A 69th minute penalty from Kiriau and Ravula’s brilliant try in the 77th minute sealed the 38-28 win for the Residents.
Residents coach Darren Piri, who struggled to put together the team, was pleased with the effort from his players.
He lauded the young players, who stepped up to the plate, putting on an inspiring performance in the win.
Piri expects the Ozzie Cookies to come out firing in the second match this afternoon at 5pm.
Ozzie Cookies skipper Tere Glassie said they anticipated a tough challenge from the Residents but was surprised with the performance from the home team.
He said they were hoping to put a better performance in today’s clash.
The Ozzie Cookies and Residents combined team will play Papua New Guinea’s Motu Koita in the final match of the series on Wednesday.
Meanwhile in the curtain raiser Women’s clash on Saturday, Ozzie Cooks defeated the Residents 22-10.
Resident III – 1. James Strickland, 2. Kane Kamana, 3. Kayal Iro, 4. Tua Ravula, 5. Storm Ruatoe, 6. Junior Kiriau, Julius Vaetaru, 8. Toru Katu, 9. Aperahama Tauta, 10. Ozwell Tunupoupou, 11. Andre Iro, 12. Arii Nicholas, 13. Tama Hunter, 14. Oki Naea, 15. Logan Perenisi, 16. Joe Hoeflich, Teariki K. Tauta. Coach - Darren Piri/ Bobby Hansen.
Ozzie Cookies – 1. Jarred Muller. 2. Josh Minhinick. 3. Jean Lucknox. 4. Noah Eastern. 5. Henry Manu. 6. Sato Opo. 7. Aaron Teroi. 8. Eric Newbigging. 9. Kelly Benson. 10. Terry Glassie. 11. David Vakai. 12. William Samuels. 13. Tahanui Tutavake. 16. Elias Rutene. 17. Malcom Uri. 18. Clive Nicholas.