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Town Whites hold off Country Blacks to claim Conan’s Cup

Tuesday 25 June 2024 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Rugby league, Sports

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Town Whites hold off Country Blacks to claim Conan’s Cup
Town Whites’ Mii Piri against Country Blacks in the second leg of the Conan’s Cup rugby league series at Aretere Park in Avatiu on Saturday. CIRL/24062411

After two unsuccessful attempts, the Town Whites finally managed to lift the Conan’s Cup women’s title in the second leg of the Cook Islands Rugby League State of Origin Series held on Saturday.

The Town Whites enjoyed a strong position heading into the second leg, having won the first leg 26-14 against Country Blacks.

The second leg held at the Aretere Park in Avatiu saw the Whites battling tooth and nail to edge out the Blacks 24-22.

The win was enough to hand the Town Whites their first ever Conan’s Cup title.

Town Whites’ Kiana Sword-Tua says as much as it excites them that they have finally won the Conan’s Cup in its third year of competition “we still have one more game of the series and are wanting to show up for ourselves come Saturday”.

“Going into this week’s game, our focus at training and for game day will be on completing our sets, getting our line-up for defence and utilising the time we have the ball in hand,” Sword-Tua said.

“We do believe Country will come out firing again this week and we have to be ready for that, we will definitely need to up our intensity on Saturday and come ready to play some good league.”

Speaking about the team’s performance in the second leg of the series, Sword-Tua said the team was quite amped and excited for the second game “as we knew Country would come back stronger than the week before, and they definitely proved that”.

“The scoreline was probably too close for our liking and I have to say we were lucky to come away with the win.

“Country’s attack play was much different to the first game which definitely caught us off-guard and that’s props to their senior players putting in the work and leading their team.”

Country Blacks’ Stephanie Nooroa was proud of her team despite the loss.

“As I said last week about being proud of my team, I will say it again that I am proud of my team and despite the expectations of everyone else in wanting us to win, I think winning is always a bonus,” Nooroa said.

“My team went out there with our very own small goals and one being showing everyone that our young girls have a future in this sport. We started this series by fielding the youngest team ever and came to Game 2 still with the youngest team ever, our young girls showed a snippet of their true potential to the island on Saturday and there is nothing that makes myself and my fellow senior players happier than seeing them shine in women’s rugby (league).”

The Country side had young players Anillia Heather-Marsters, Terai Heather, Heinata Heather, Elle Oti and Feliza Nicholas who joined the team from Lady Bears and Edon “Lily” Teraitua and CJ Rimamotu from the Tupapa Panthers team. The side also had services of youngsters Aikitu Mose, Samantha Mose, Alexis Kareroa and Ngatokorima Elisa who also made their debut in the Conan’s Cup Series.

“Game 2 was a great match, we gave our Townside sisters a great run and I wouldn’t say anything went wrong with my team, we came back fighting showing everyone the potential our young girls have, probably showing everyone the potential women’s rugby has in our small island,” Nooroa said.

“Congratulations to our Townside Titans sisters on their win.”

Nooroa said they are looking forward to giving their best in the third and final match of the series.

“With Game 3 coming, there is not much to be expected from my team other than giving our sisters another good run and showing the potentials our youth have in this sport.”

The Conan’s Cup women’s rugby league series was launched in 2022 in honour of a man who had a passion for league, the late Colin (Conan) Ngari Munokoa-Tini.

Remembered “as the big man with the big heart”, Munokoa-Tini, the eldest son of former MP for Nikao, Ngamau Munokoa and her husband Ngari, passed away at the age of 45 in 2010.

He was a former president of the Arorangi Bears Rugby League Club, a huge supporter of the Avatiu Eels Rugby League Club, and was heavily involved in the referees association and junior development.