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Kukis face Tonga in a do or die clash

Saturday 29 October 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Features, League, Sports

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Kukis face Tonga in a do or die clash
Cook Islands Men's Rugby League Team source NRL

The Cook Islands rugby league side faces a do or die situation in their final group match at the Rugby League World Cup in England.

With a 18-12 win against Wales and 16-32 loss against Papua New Guinea, the Kukis face a daunting task tomorrow against Tonga in their final group match.

The Tony Iro-coached side will need to beat powerhouse Tonga in order to remain in contention for a place in the quarter-finals. Tonga undefeated from two matches is all but through to the quarters.

Cook Islands Rugby League president Charles Carlson said: “A win against Tonga will certainly increase our chances in making the quarter finals.”

“We felt we had a good chance against PNG in the first half holding them to 10-8 score line but lapse in our defence in the second half allowed PNG to dominate the game.”

Tonga will be no different and will aim to dominate the game with their big forwards, said Carlson.

“Coach Iro been working on tidying up those errors and a game plan to take on the Tongans. Any team is beatable and the team that is composed with no mistakes will win.”

Carlson said the players have fully recovered from the flu, adding “this will be one exciting game”.

“The Cook Islands enforcer Dylan Napa will be in the squad against Tonga, would have been good to have Dylan in the PNG game but he was serving two weeks suspension from his final (club) game of the year with Catalans in France.”

Cook Islands will miss the services of Anthony Gelling, who has returned home to New Zealand, and Rueben Rennie who has been handed one-match ban for Grade A offence against PNG. Forward Rennie was sent to the sin-bin in the second half for a reckless tip-tackle on PNG’s Wellington Albert.

The Cook Islands will take on Tonga on Sunday at 4.30am (Cook Islands time).