by Lorraine Genia – EM TV Sports, Port Moresby
Saturday’s game between the PNG Pukpuks and Tahiti set the perfect tone for what is to come throughout the remaining games of the 2015 Oceania Cup.
The backline combination of James Lumaris and Jacky Marcus, along with the inclusion of sevens star Butler Morris proved to be a winning combination.
The weakness in Saturday’s game was evident from the opening minutes of the first half, as the Pukpuks forwards were penalised on the seventh minute allowing Tahiti to open the scoring with a penalty try.
Luckily for PNG, Tahiti’s fly half Anthony Tesquet missed an easy penalty goal from just outside the 22.
The match picked up pace and momentum, once the backline had more possession of the ball, with the halves Nigel Genia and Richard Aitsi feeding the ball to Tissa Kautu, Jacky Marcus and James Lumaris.
Genia controlled the backline, although he missed two out four conversions, and opted one too many times to kick to touch.
With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Martin Taeae was awarded a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. An opportunity for the Pukpuks was granted as the Tahitians were one man down, allowing the ball to be played out wide setting up Jacky Marcus to score cross field.
The second half was no different, with the Pukpuks backline showing pure skill and brilliance, with Buttler Morris scoring a try and setting up another.
While a win is enough to surpass any criticism, the PNG Pukpuks must strengthen their forward line ahead of the game against American Samoa on Wednesday.
Eli Pema Kini’s performance off the bench was a standout, and the addition of Wesley Thomas in the forward pack later on in the second half brought control and experience.
Oceania Rugby will hold a press conference today, where teams will be confirmed for Wednesday’s matches.