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Tokouso claims second Tri Nations Series title

Tuesday 26 September 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Rugby Union, Sports


Tokouso claims second Tri Nations Series title
Tokouso (Samoa and Tonga) players receive the Vodafone Tri Nations Series title from Cook Islands Rugby Union president Simi Teiotu and a representative from Vodafone Cook Islands. MELINA ETCHES/23092316

Tokouso (Samoa and Tonga) claimed their second Vodafone Tri Nations Series title after Tabusoro Fiji defeated Cook Islands Residents in the final match of the series on Saturday.

Tabusoro, the 2021 and 2022 champions, defeated Cook Islands Residents 31-24 at Aretere Park in Avatiu.

As predicted it was a game of contrasting playing styles with the CI Residents preference for a more structured forwards dominated-approach as opposed to the Tabusoro’s exciting open-expansive style of play as they attacked from anywhere on the field.

The CI Residents dominated the set piece scrums and lineouts, however once play opened up and Tabusoro were able to play their natural, free-spirited brand of 15-man rugby, they caused all sorts of problems for the opposition. 

The Tabusoro speedsters scored five tries between first 5/8 Nathan Nabou, who scoring a hat-trick of tries, and centre midfielder Pita Senibiakula who scored twice.

The best players for the CI Residents were skilful midfielders Mark Tuaati and his young partner Tama Nicholas and hardworking forwards Kana Nga and Papa Li Ponini.

For Tabusoro, halves Savenaca “Juju” Buresova and Nabou, and their busy number 8 Isimeli Ravula were impressive.

Tabusoro led at halftime by 19-7.

Tabusoro’s win saw Tokouso, who won the inaugural series in 2020, regain the title.

After the points were counted and based on the three-team round-robin competition format of play, Tokouso finished on top with six points followed by Tabusoro on five and Cook Islands Residents on four points.

Tokouso captain Lua Tua and his team were on hand at the Avatiu Clubhouse to accept the trophy. 

Tua said they overcame a jittery start against the Residents in the opening match to beat Tabusoro in game two.

“In the first week, we didn’t have great preparation and the conditions were tough as well. We couldn’t get any flow with how we wanted to play. We were just unfortunate in the last five minutes when we gave away some possession and territory and Cook Islands managed to score three points out of that,” Tua said.

“The preparation for the second match was basically to try to correct what we tried in the first week. We focused hard on defence because we knew Fijians were dangerous right throughout the park and that (strategy) worked really well for us.”

Tua said while the competition level seemed to have improved, he was dejected by the low turnout from the fans.

“There was a lot of support and fans when we started this four years ago. Sadly, there was a noticeable drop last and this year … not sure why, maybe timing or Pacific Games preparations.”

Cook Islands Rugby Union’s Ben Koteka thanked their major sponsor Vodafone Cook Islands “for your continuous support, venue hosts Avatiu Rugby Club/Sports Federation, CI Referees Association, all of our teams and management – Tokouso, Tabusoro and CI Residents, to all our volunteers and all our spectators and supporters who turnup each week to make it happen”.

“Also thank you Lord, for blessing us with all these wonderful people to help run our Tri Nations 15s series for another year. God bless you always, from the CIRU Executive Board.”


Tabusoro: 31 (Tries: Nathan Nabou [3] & Pita Senikauriri [2]. Conv: Tevita Niusoma [3] CI Residents: 26 (Tries: Penalty Try [automatic 7 points], Toru Katuke, Ryan Daniel & Timo Tangirere. Conv: Daniel Toa [2]


Best & Fairest: Most Promising: Tokouso – Fale Sooialo and Tangi Akava; Tabusoro – Isimeli Ravula and Nathan Nabou; CI Residents – Daniel Toa and Tama Nicholas.