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Town Whites take first step towards Conan’s Cup glory

Tuesday 18 June 2024 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in League, Sports

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Town Whites take first step  towards Conan’s Cup glory
Town Whites’ Kiana Sword-Tua makes a break against Country Blacks in the opening leg of the Conan’s Cup women’s rugby league series on Saturday. CIRL/24061721

The Town Whites, who have never hoisted the prestigious Conan’s Cup women’s rugby league series trophy, took a step closer to glory on Saturday by beating Country Blacks in the opening match.

The annual series is part of the inaugural Cook Islands Rugby League State of Origin series to be held over three weekends.

The opening match of the series was played at Nukupure Park in Ngatangiia.

In the fiercely contested battle, Town Whites took an early advantage and maintained their lead throughout the contest to beat Country Blacks 26-14.

The Country Blacks showcased many superb moments but were unable to execute the opportunities they created.

Town Whites’ Kiana Sword-Tua said they have yet to win the Conan’s Cup and getting game one under their belt has been encouraging.

The Town Whites side mostly consisted of girls who played during the season this year.

“There was also a small handful of girls in our team who are brand new to the sport which was quite exciting,” Sword-Tua said.

“Going into our first game of three last Saturday, we wanted to complete our sets, and get our basics right as it’s been about four weeks since the 2024 league finals and getting numbers to trainings has been a challenge leading up to the first Conan’s cup match.

“It was a very physical game on Saturday the Country girls definitely gave us a good run, their team had quite a few young players who have been a part of the Maine Tueporo development so it was pretty exciting to see how far they have come since the beginning of the year.”
Despite being the favourites after their win last week, Sword-Tua said they are still wary of the Country side heading into the second match this weekend.

“Going into game two on Saturday we have a few areas we would like to focus on at training this week mainly around our ball skills and defensive tactics,” the Lady Panthers player said.

“Saturday should be another exciting and intense match and we are looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile in the men’s clash last Saturday, the Town Blues clinched a close 20-16 win over the Country Maroons in extra time playoff after finishing the 80-minute battle locked at 16-all.

Country Maroons coach Dion Nepia earlier told Cook Islands News: “For our boys, it was about building combinations and confidence, as it had been well over a month since our last game. I was proud of the boys’ defense, especially against the formidable size of the Town team.”

Town Blues co-coach Clive Nicholas said: “Our forwards, the Panthers trio Eric, Oz, and Tua, along with Eels skipper Josh Motu, led extremely well and worked tirelessly to get us on the front foot, but our backs couldn’t execute. These are just minor issues, easy to fix for the second game.”