The Pukpuks conceded defeat against tournament hosts, Hong Kong, in their first ever Tier 2 World Rugby tournament on Friday evening.
The Pukpuks lost crucial halfback, Nigel Genia, in the first 15 minutes to a fractured ankle, while making a break as PNG saw the opportunity to score.
The unfortunate benching of Genia, forced fullback Richard Aitsi to the scrum, and Jonah Kautu to cover, with Stanis Susuve called off the bench to the wing.
The match quickly turned in favour of Hong Kong, with Jason Jeyam opening the scoreboard with Hong Kong’s first try on the 13th minute.
The momentum continued to build for Hong Kong, with another try scored 18 minutes into the game, followed by three more in the first half, bringing the half time score to 34-0.
Papua New Guinea continued to struggle without Genia’s control at the halves. But as Hong Kong continued to demonstrate pure class, the Pukpuks open style of football, held Hong Kong at the helm, with Susuve and Jonathan Kent making superb breaks, and try saving tackles.
With Hong Kong’s Lex Kaleca yellow carded on the first minute of the second half, the Pukpuks took advantage, making way for Susuve to put to use his incredible pace out on the wing. Simple ball handling errors however, saw a switch in roles, with Hong Kong securing a penalty conversion, boosting the score to 57 nil on the 53rd minute.
As Hong Kong continued to play their fast flowing game, the one man, who’s silence was broken by the second minute, Captain Tissa Kautu’s intercept at the 50m produced an incredible solo try, ending PNG’s scoreless drought. Hong Kong however, remained far ahead 51-5.
With the loss of lock, Richard Gebob just minutes away from the final whistle, the Pukpuks’s defensive game was ever so strong, with the forwards in Elipema Kini holding the fort.
The 51-5 loss for the PNG Pukpuks however, comes as more of an eye opener for the national side, being exposed to the next level of competition, playing against World Rugby’s Tier 2 nations. A step up, from the Federation of Oceania Rugby Cup.