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Papua New Guinea warmed up for the Rugby League World Cup later this year with a comfortable victory over a gallant Cook Islands side. It was a three try glut right after the break which broke the backs of the Cookies.
In the first half though, it was a much tighter contest. PNG put on the first two tries of the contest - Adex Wera from a Justin Olam flick before Wartovo Puara just trucked himself towards the try-line for a 12-nil lead.
Cook Islands after some early jitters worked into the contest and on the scoreboard, twice late in the first half. Geoff Daniela finished off a lovely counter attack then Kobe Tararo laid on a brilliant pass for Uiti Baker to lock it up at 12-all going into the break.
The Kumuls were more solid through their work, completing sets and putting pressure on the Cookies back three. It paid dividends right after the break when Stargroth Amean turned starman with two tries to keep the Cookies at arms length - the first was a determined effort and the second was a clockwork backline play to earn him man of the match honours.
The Cook Islanders wouldn't falter though, as they pegged the Kumuls back right when Geoff Daniela was fortunate to get his second but despite a late four-pointer to youngster Esan Marsters it was all the Kumuls in the second half.
When they wanted to, the Kumuls busted through the line with ease and provided the crowd that turned up for the first of the triple header with some good excitement as they ran out deserved 32-22 victors.
Papua New Guinea 32 - Cook Islands 22
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Halftime Score: Papua New Guinea 12 Cook Islands 12
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Stargroth Amean
2 points - Ase Boas
1 points - Esan Marsters
PAPUA NEW GUINEA (32)
Tries: Wartovo Puara, Adex Wera, Stargroth Amean (2), Nixon Put
Conversions: Ase Boas (5/5)
Penalty Goals: Ase Boas (1/1)
COOK ISLANDS (22)
Tries: Geoff Daniela (2), Uiti Baker, Esan Marsters
Conversions: Isaac John (3/4)