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Fighting for pride and ‘mana’

Thursday 10 November 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Rugby league, Sports

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Fighting for pride and ‘mana’
Shanice Parker is tackled by April Ngatupuna during the Kiwi Ferns’ win over the Cook Islands. ASHLEY ALLEN/GETTY IMAGES/22110908

Cook Islands head coach Rusty Matua revealed pride is the driving factor for his team ahead of their clash with France early today at 7am. By Megan Armitage of rlwc2021.com.

The two sides will be battling for their first win of the tournament following successive defeats against New Zealand and Australia in the opening rounds.

But Matua has his eyes set on more than a win, stating that his team will be playing not just for their nation but for “mana” this time round.

He said: “The goal is to get a win in the tournament and there's no doubt France will be in exactly the same position as us.

“So that is going to be a cracking game to finish things off.

“But there’s also lots of pride to play for in that last game, we call it ‘mana’, it’s integrity and it’s honour.

“Against New Zealand, we needed to show guts for each other, and that rising intensity came through better discipline and trying to have a bit of fun.

“That second half was some of the best prep that team could have had ahead of the Cook Islands.”

France head coach Vincent Baloup has kept his focus on rest and recovery ahead of his team’s final battle.

With the next World Cup taking place on French soil, Les Chanticleers will want to prove a point in their final game of the tournament.

And with their lone World Cup victory against Tonga back in 2008, Baloup is eager to shake off any injury worries and bow out with a final flourish in York.

He said: “We've had to assess a lot. Quite a few of the girls took big hits against Australia and that will be our first order of business.

“All of our girls are fully amateur so we're not used to these short recovery times between fixtures so rest is a big focus for us.

“The focus ahead of the next game is recovery and then working hard. Looking at the analysis and applying that for the Cook Islands game.

“We want to hold our heads high and do the jersey proud for the rest of the competition.”

Drawn in a group with the world’s top two sides, Australia and New Zealand, it was always asking a lot for Cook Islands or France to stay in the race for the semi-finals by the time of their final group game.

The Moana have come closer to doing so, falling to a 34-4 defeat to New Zealand after an opening loss to the Jillaroos, with France finding life tougher against the top two, notably in a 92-0 defeat to Australia last time out.

Teams

Cook Islands: 24 Erikana Dean, 9 Tetuanui Dean, 20 Mireka Dean, 12 Kennedy Harrison-Vahua, 17 Lavinia Kitai, 2 Beniamina Koiatu, 3 Kerehitina Matua, 23 Terehia Matua, 11 Moniqca Mo’ale, 10 April Ngatupuna, 4 Daimzel Rongokea, 21 Anekka Stephens, 8 Karol-Ann Tanevesi, 19 Tehinnah-Leal Tatuava, 16 Alekermay Tuaana, 18. Charlize Tumu-Makara, 14 Jazmon Tupou-Witchman, 13 Elianna Walton, 1 Mackenzie Wiki 

France: 1 Elisa Akpa, 2 Cristina Song Puche, 3 Mélanie Bianchini, 4 Lauréane Biville, 5 Manon Samarra, 6 Elisa Ciria, 7 Alice Varela, 8 Jeanne Bernard, 9 Cyndia Mansard, 10 Gaëlle Alvernhe, 12 Perrine Monsarrat, 14 Fanny Ramos, 15 Cloé Guillerot, 17 Maïlys Borak, 18 Anaëlle Meunier, 19 Zoé Pastre-Courtine, 20 Anais Fourcroy, 21 Dorine Samarra, 23 Margot Canal

Head-to-head – This will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides, as they both target a first win of the tournament. 

Fun fact – This match will pit two of the least error-strewn teams in the tournament against one another. With 18 errors, Cook Islands have made the fewest errors of any team, while France on 20 are third, with only Australia splitting the teams.

Cook Islands record – The Cook Islands have won three of their previous 11 Rugby World Cup encounters, although in this tournament they have fallen to both Australia and New Zealand. Their record against northern hemisphere opposition in the competition is strong though, having drawn with Great Britain back in 2003, and beaten England in 2017.

France record – France have lost six in a row in the tournament since their lone Women’s Rugby League World Cup victory, against Tonga back in 2008. They are still searching for a first point in this year’s tournament, three years out from hosting the next edition.

Players to watch – April Ngatupuna (Cook Islands) has made 11 offloads at the 2021 women’s Rugby League World Cup, more than twice as many as any other player at the tournament.

Elisa Akpa (France) has made three try saves throughout the first two rounds of the 2021 women’s Rugby League World Cup, more than any other player across the competition.