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Tri Nations ‘pressure match’ as Cooks meets Samoa

Saturday 13 November 2021 | Written by Alana Musselle | Published in Rugby Union, Sports

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Tri Nations ‘pressure match’ as Cooks meets Samoa
Thomas Toa and Feleti Anau, captains for the Cook Islands Residents team and the Tokouso Samoan team, who play each other today. 21111246

The second game in the Rarotonga Tri-Nations Rugby Series will be played today at Victoria Park in Tupapa, featuring the Cook Islands Residents team against the Tokouso Samoan team.

After a prayer led by the hosts at 1.45pm, at 2pm will see the kick-off of the Under 9, 11, and 13s Quick Rip Rugby matches by all clubs including the Tupapa Panthers, the Takuvaine Reds, the Avatiu Eels and the Arorangi Bears.

Today’s main game between the Cook Islands Residents team and the Tokouso Samoan team will kick off at 4pm. The entry fee for the day will be $3 for adults and free entry for anyone under 16. 

The Cook Islands had a rough start to the tournament last weekend when they played against the Tabusoro Fiji team, losing 31-8. This weekend will give them another chance to redeem themselves and set themselves up to move towards the goal of winning the Tri-Nations shield.

Tavake Karika, coach for the Cook Islands, said: “I think last week’s game was a lesson learned for us. This week the pressure is on and we just need to tidy up those loose ends so we can keep the ball and follow the game plan.”

He said the coaches for the team are grateful that they have managed to put a team together during this period of time and that the players are able to showcase that they can play at that level.

This applies especially to the younger, upcoming players for whom Karika said this tournament could definitely serve as a potential career pathway for them.

“The squad who have put their hands up to play for Cook Islands side have played their hearts out and are taking that opportunity to show that they all have potential,” he said. 

Okesene ‘Ox’ Moananu, coach for the Samoan Tokouso team, said with this week being the team’s first game in the series his anticipation of the game is fairly good. 

“I think our preparation has been going well so there’s a bit of confidence in the team,” he said. Moananu said the Samoan players have a lot of respect for the local players in the Cook Islands team and don’t want to make rash predictions.

“If we win, it would match the goal we have set, but we still have to get through the first game. The local team had a good challenge with the Fiji team. We will just have to take it one step at a time but I think if we come out the other end with a win, we will be one step closer to our goal to gain the Tri-Nations shield,” Moananu said.

Cook Islands Rugby Union development manager Ben Koteka said today’s game will be a “pressure match” for both teams.

As their last match of the 2021 series, the Cook Islands team will want to finish with a win after their defeat to Fiji last week, he said.

“Tokouso are the current (2020) champions so they will need to win this match to ensure they are in the box seat come next week’s match,” he added, regarding the Samoan side.

In terms of players on Team Cook Islands, he advises the crowd today to keep an eye out for dynamic frontrowers Toru Katuke and John Vano, supported by hard-working loose forwards Li Ponini and Thomas Toa to lay the foundation for this team.

For the Tokouso team he said to watch for their lethal backline to be led by first five eighth Viiga Ruepena and fullback Afereti Anau.

Teams

Cook Islands Residents: Thomas Toa, Jason Potoru, Tepaki Mani, Toru Katuke, John Vano, Patrick Ngarua, Tony Turaki, Josh Caffery, Joseph Williams, Tamaiva Maeva, Steven Willis, Christian Kora, Nick Connacl, Josh Motu, Tereinga Henry, Jeremy Campbell, Thomas Daniel, Albert Edwards, Amani Ama, Joe Aiao, Tupou Hagai, Marouna Ioane, Leonard Roa, and Troy Matutu.

Samoa Tokouso: Toto’a Tuaia, Faafoi Vaofusi,  Likena Vaomatou, Selafi Malo, Jeff Magele, Clive Nicholas, Fale Sooialo, Leki Vahefoou, James Tofilau, Viiga Reupena, John Penu,  Lokeni Perenise,  Samu Alafua,  Peni Kitiona,  Feleti Anau,  Napa Tomokino,  Lualua Tua. Apanui Heemi, Lui Moemai, Enekupe Lelevaga, Tautua Solomona, Penitito Lio, and Isaia Aleni