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Blues claim CIRL State of Origin series

Monday 1 July 2024 | Written by Solomone Taukei | Published in League, Sports

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Blues claim CIRL State of Origin series
Town Blues claimed the inaugural Cook Islands Rugby League State of Origin series after beating Country Maroons 26-18 in the final leg on Saturday. CIRL/24063011

A thrilling finish in game three at Nukupure Park on Saturday saw the Town Blues claim victory in the CIRL State of Origin series.

Reinforced by their star players, the strategic approach of coaches Clive Nicholas and Darren Piri paid off in the final series.

The Blues had a slow start in the first half, allowing the Country Maroons to take a 12-8 lead into halftime. The Maroons displayed tenacity and speed, with fullback Brian Akava controlling play effectively for his team.

However, the Blues steadily fought back, securing two more tries to put them in the lead. The Maroons responded with a strong attack, crossing the Blues’ line and bringing the scores close with 15 minutes remaining.

With the score at 18-20, the game was still up for grabs. Both teams demonstrated strong defence, completing sets midway, making it difficult to predict a winner. With five minutes remaining, the Blues made a crucial break, pushing their score line to 26-18 in the final minute, just in time for the buzzer.

Coach Nicholas expressed his satisfaction with the team’s performance over the weekend, saying, “Darren and I are very happy about our performance over the weekend, especially this being the first of its kind and knowing that this definitely wasn’t a one-horse race.”

“It’s been a very tough three weeks, especially with our team changing every day. We’ve had different sets at trainings due to players falling out with injuries and also work and family commitments, so that was frustrating for Darren and me. To come out with the win in the end,

Maroons coach Dion Nepia appreciated the opportunity the series provided for showcasing young talent in Rarotonga.

“This format brings the game alive and draws the support of the community,” he said and thanked the CIRL executives for the superb organisation of the tournament.

In a thrilling women’s game, the Country Blacks held off the formidable Town Whites, creating a major upset with a 14-10 victory in the final series game.

Despite the high anticipation for the Whites to secure all three wins after winning the first two matches, the Country Blacks delivered a stunning performance, showcasing their resilience and skill. However, with their previous victories, the Town Whites still emerged as the series champions, winning the first two matches.

Prime Minister Mark Brown, who presented the trophies, also shared his sentiments, noting, “It was great to see a lot of young players and terrific to watch such young talents. Special mention to the women’s league growing stronger year by year.”

He went on to congratulate everyone for the successful turnout.

Tama Nicholas once again secured the MVP of the series, earning recognition as one of the most hardworking players for the Blues. Throughout the tournament, he consistently displayed extravagant rugby skills, contributing significantly to his team’s performance and proving himself as a standout talent in the CIRL State of Origin series.