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Country seeks redemption in league series

Saturday 22 June 2024 | Written by Solomone Taukei | Published in League, Sports


Country seeks redemption in league series
A Country Maroons player tries to make a break against Town Blues in the first leg of the Cook Islands Rugby League State of Origin series at Nukupure Park in Ngatangiia last Saturday. CIRL/24061603

The Country teams will be looking to bounce back in the second leg of the Cook Islands Rugby League State of Origin series this afternoon after going down to Town in the women’s and men’s clashes last weekend.

Last week’s matches showcased intense competition, with both the men’s and women’s games fiercely contested until the final minutes.

In the women’s Conan Cup, Town Whites defeated Country Blacks 26-14 while in the men’s State of Origin series match, Town Blues overcame Country Maroons 20-16 in extra time play.

As it stands, it’s still anyone’s game when they meet this afternoon at Aretere Park in Avatiu. The women’s match will kick off at 2.15pm followed by the men’s clash at 3.30pm.

In the women’s competition, the Town Whites and the Country Blacks will face off again in what promises to be another tightly contested encounter. Both teams have strong line-ups and impactful benches, which will likely keep the flair going.

Despite the loss in game one, Country Blacks’ Stephanie Nooroa said she was proud of her team.

“This year is the youngest team we have fielded for this series and our young girls have really stepped up and made us proud. We didn’t walk away with the first win but instead walked away with something better for the first match which was our youth development and building the confidence in our young and new girls,” Nooroa said.

“I think coming out of the first game our young girls have had a taste of this series and are a lot more confident now, we are looking forward to building a stronger bond with them and taking their confidence level to another step.

“Now we can take the first game as our learning lesson and focus on our team bonding and working together a lot more confidently.”

The men’s game will be another nail-biter. Both teams demonstrated their hunger and skill last week, pushing the match into extra time.

Country Maroons coach Nepia Dion plans to explore the depth of his bench, stating, “For our boys, it was about building combinations and confidence, as it had been well over a month since our boys had a game. I was proud of the boys’ defence throughout the game as we hadn’t done much work on defence at all, especially against the formidable size of the Town team.”

This week, he intends to utilise his bench, which includes skilful Fijian players and agile local talents.

Town Blues co-coaches Clive Nicholas and Darren Piri will likely stick with last week’s line-up but with more depth in the backs.

Nicholas commented, “Well, Darren and I just said to the boys that mistakes and execution were killing us. We bombed three easy tries and didn’t execute anything. These are just minor issues, easy to fix for the second game.”

Both the women’s and men’s teams are prepared to give their all, with each side looking to outdo the other. Whether it’s the Town Whites and Country Blacks or the Town Maroons and Country Maroons, fans can expect thrilling encounters that will keep them on the edge of their seats.