Wales' Elliot Kear tackles Cook Islands' Anthony Gelling during the Rugby League World Cup group D match between Wales and Cook Islands at Leigh Sports Village in Leigh, England, Wednesday Oct. 19, 2022. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)
Cook Islands had to come from behind twice to beat Wales 18-12 in their opening Rugby League World Cup match at Leigh Sports Village Stadium in Manchester on Wednesday morning.
coach Tony Iro said the Kukis allowed Wales to dominate the ruck and play the
ball speed in the first half.
Islands were down 8-12 at the break following a “rusty” first half.
told Cook Islands News: “Although we created opportunities and had two tries
disallowed, we let them get out of their own half far too easy.”
said the message at halftime was to win the tackle area and be more aggressive
with the line speed.
thought we dominated for most of the second half but we just couldn’t turn that
dominance in to points. To their credit our boys were patient and managed to
eke out a victory.”
we will need to be a lot better next week but I think we have a lot of
improvement left in us. With no warm up game before this match we were probably
always going to be a little rusty so this hit out will help in our preparation
Cooks started as pre-match favourites but conceded first when Rhodri Lloyd
scooped up a well-weighted kick from Josh Ralph to touch down in the 13th
Iro, Zane Tetevano and Steve Marsters threatened for the Cooks before Tepai
Moeroa barged over only to lose possession. They levelled at 6-6 when
Huddersfield-bound Esan Marsters burst through to send centre Anthony Gelling
racing clear to the posts.
reclaimed the lead with a fine individual try from halfback Ollie Olds, who
created space with a dummy and powered to the line. Matty Fozard landed his
second conversion but a penalty from Steve Marsters, adding to an earlier goal,
cut the Kukis’ deficit to 12-8 at the break.
upped the tempo in the second half, and had a try disallowed for a knock-on.
The game turned with two quickfire tries. Davvy Moale grabbed one from a Jon
Ford pass, and Steve Marsters rose in the corner to claim a high kick and
Wales, without a World Cup win since 2000, almost produced a last-minute draw after Lloyd charged down a kick but Caleb Aekins opted not to pass with a try for the taking out wide and the chance was lost.
The Kukis came from behind twice to beat Wales 18-12. Cook Islands will take on Papua New Guinea on October 25 before playing Tonga on October 30.
of the game
his side trailing 12-8 with 22 minutes to play, 19-year-old Davvy Moale ignited
the Kukis late comeback. It was all muscle from the Rabbitohs young gun, who
barged through from close range before carrying several defenders over the line
to score. Moale now has two tries in two Tests for Cook Islands having bagged a
four-pointer in the mid-season international against Samoa at Campbelltown
a bit lost for words. We weren’t good enough but we got the win so we’re happy
with that. Obviously, I played over here for a bit of time and I know a few of
the Wales boys and we did a bit of homework on them. We knew they were good and
they’d come out hard. They’ve got strong backs who carry strong, so credit to
them they got through us and it took us a bit of time to combat them. I think
we just showed a bit of grit there in the end.” – Cook Islands halfback
a lot of emotion involved. We were in there right at the end. We probably had
half a chance at the very end but we just didn’t manage to take it. We didn’t
control our offloads well enough in the second half and ultimately that’s what
hurt us. But I’m immensely proud of them and I thought the effort was
absolutely superb.” - Wales coach John Kear.
Additional reporting from AP and NRL.com
Cook Islands had 34 tackle breaks to Wale's 14 in the opening half but still
trailed by four at the break.
completed 31 of 35 sets at 88 per cent while the Kukis completed 34 of 40 sets
at 85 per cent.
Islands winger Steven Marsters scored 10 points for his side before sustaining
a knee injury in the 70th minute of the match.
has not won a World Cup game since 2000 while the win is just Cook Islands'
second in the tournament’s history following 28-24 success over the same
opposition in 2013.
two sides' last World Cup meeting in 2013 saw the Cook Islands defeat Wales
match marked a family affair for the Cook Islands, with Cronulla Sharks rookie
Kayal Iro coached by his uncle Tony Iro.