by Lorraine Genia – EM TV Sports, Port Moresby
The Pukpuks qualified for the non-core quarter finals after topping Pool F, but struggled to gain victory against Russia, in the semifinals; going down 26 points to 7 yesterday.
The Pukpuks had been placed under immense pressure, leading into the Hong Kong 7s, after a disappointing performance at the Wellington 7s earlier in the year.
The boys fought back against critics, winning all three pool matches, against Japan, Russia and Tunisia, qualifying for the quarter finals, against Uruguay.
Wesley Vali who played halfback in Hong Kong, was outstanding midfield, scoring three back-to-back tries securing the team’s advancement into the semifinals.
After beating Russia in their pool match, 26-17, the Russians came out stronger with their defense, in the semifinals, barricading PNG’s chances to progress on to the cup finals, for the World Series circuit qualifier.
In a telephone interview, Coach Billy Rapilla said it was a huge achievement topping the pool, as the team exceeded many expectations, despite failing to qualify for the World Series circuit.