Big win on their minds in HK

Thursday July 05, 2018 Written by Published in Rugby Union
The remaining members of the Cook Islands national rugby team arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday night. 18070716 The remaining members of the Cook Islands national rugby team arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday night. 18070716

Cook Islands rugby skipper Sam Anderson-Heather says they are heading into the second leg of the Rugby World Cup qualifying series against Hong Kong this weekend with a “big win” on their minds.

The national side lost the opening match 3-26 at the BCI Stadium last week, but still has a chance to make it through to the next stage of the qualifiers.

The Stan Wright-coached side will need to beat Hong Kong in the away match to be played later tomorrow (CI time) by more than 23 points in order to make it through to the repechage tournament.

In the repechage tournament, the winner of this qualifier will battle it out alongside Canada, Samoa and the runner-up of the Africa Cup for a place in the RWC.

“The picture is really obvious, we have got to score more points than they have in the second game. It really is a tough ask but we have put ourselves in that situation and have no one else to blame but ourselves,” skipper Anderson-Heather said.

“We will go and work hard with the clear mind that we have to win and win big. That’s the challenge we have to overcome.”

Cook Islands did not have the best start to their campaign in Hong Kong after some members of the team were left stranded in Sydney earlier this week due to ticketing issues.

They joined the team on Tuesday and had a couple of training sessions, focusing on certain key areas identified after the opening clash.

One of the issues that let the team down in that match was ill discipline in the ruck area and Anderson-Heather said that would be a focus during their training sessions this week.

“We are passionate people and the boys probably play with a little bit of emotion at times, which makes my job pretty tricky – but you don’t want to take that away.

“It’s about controlling that (emotion) and using it for positive things on the field. That’s something we need to work on.”

The national side also lacked the finishing touch after the players were unable to convert the numerous opportunities they created last week into much-needed points.

Hong Kong caught them out wide on numerous occasions thanks to a strong performance from their forwards, which created space for their backline players to stroll over the line, especially early on in the match.

 

Cook Islands squad

Props: AJ Campbell, James Pakoti, Tuakana Paitai, Alex Matapo; Hookers: Sam Anderson-Heather (c), Matthew Mullany; Locks/Flankers: James Kora, Shahn Eru, Tokerau Raru, Robert Heather, Te Eru Wano, Tyrone Viiga, Tai Marsters, Tamanui Nicholas; Halves: Othniel Joseph, Reece Joyce, Te Ara Henderson, Corry Tearoa, Walter Koteka; Centres/Outside Backs: Gene Te Amo, Jamian Iroa, Greg Mullany, Josh Tinomana, Brynn Uriarau, Marnus Hanley, Matamanea Matapakia, Oisin Clarken.

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