Monday, July 6
The Australian Affiliated States league team was in Rarotonga last week to play a couple of games against the Cook Islands league squad.
The AAS is the best players from the Victorian, Western Australian, South Australian and Northern Territory leagues. The Cook Islands squad, called the President’s XIII, comprised the best local players – those eligible to play for the country in the forthcoming Pacific Mini Games. There’s a residency requirement for that so overseas-based Cookies don’t qualify.
The matches were billed locally as ‘tests’ but they weren’t really as the ASS isn’t a national side. Nevertheless it did the local players good to have two tough matches against quality opposition.
We lost both games, the first 20-38 and the second 10-18.
Cook Islands News reported after the first game:
“The local team worked hard to keep up with the Australian team earlier on in the match but lagged off in the final quarter of the game.Australia led 20-10 at the half time break.The superior fitness of the Australians saw them wear down the Cooks in the last quarter to score some very good tries to increase their lead and win the game 38-20.The Cooks had their chances to score and win the game but sloppy passes and poor defence around the ruck costs them the game.”
A few months out from the mini games you might think that local athletes would be pretty fit, after all, the squad’s been selected for a while. Still, in their defence, they haven’t played any other good teams so they won’t be match-ready and this was 13-a-side whereas it’ll be 9-a-side at the games.
The CINews report on the second game said:
“While the Cook Islands league team had visibly improved since their first match against the Australian Affiliated States team on Monday, they just couldn’t bury the Aussies when they had the chance.
The Cooks … were again defeated on Thursday 18-10.
The local boys certainly held their own with the score at 8-8 in the first half.
The team even led 10-8 for part of the game.
However, a lapse in concentration in the last 10 minutes of the game with some basic errors and missed opportunities allowed the Aussies to run in two quick tries to seal the game.
The local lads certainly matched the Aussies in the physical battle but just lacked that mental toughness to really bury the Aussies when they had the chance. However, it was certainly an awesome experience for many of the local boys playing their first international game.”