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Cook Islands hold on for first World Cup win
Cook Islands have withstood a late Welsh onslaught to register a maiden World Cup win 28-24 over Wales in front of 3,270 fans at The Gnoll.
The 2013 world cup had been a disappointment for both the Welsh and Cook Islanders but coming to The Gnoll today, they were looking to finish off their campaign on a high.
It was an opening ten minutes dominated by the Island nation with some stinging defense forcing some Welsh errors. Daniel Fepuleai capitialised with a dart from close range to open the scoring.
Seven minutes was all it took for a rebuttal from the Welsh side. They threatened all afternoon through the wings and Chris Nassam crossed as an early warning sign for the Cook Islanders.
Cook Islands who were competitive in each of their world cup fixtures thus far in the 2013 edition were keen to register their first win. They were well on their way to reaching that.
Keith Lulia and Isaac John crossed in the 32nd and 40th minute respectively off two Welsh errors. It allowed both to cross easily underlining the fragile underbelly of Wales' campaign.
A win was within touching distance after Peyroux touched down only seven minutes after the resumption. Wales once again ill disciplined giving away cheap penalties gifting the Islanders the space needed to convert.
The Welsh went from the out-house after failing to find touch in the 48th minute to the penthouse only trailing by two points after 69 minutes gone.
Between those two points - it was a three try onslaught from the Welsh side who exposed some frailties in the Islanders right hand defense. Lloyd White though went straight down the middle for his try.
Next both Roets and Rhodri Lloyd were on the end of two expansive backline movements that exposed the Cook Islands and offered a faint whiff of hope for a comeback.
Jonathan Ford would inch the Islanders ahead by eight once again after a towering bomb was spilled by the Welsh. Dylan Napa who was a terror throughout the game regathered and offloaded to Ford who finished the movement he started.
Cook Islands were once again in touching distance for their maiden world cup win but Wales were going to make them work hard for it. A set that began in their own half finished in a Welsh try. Christiaan Roets showing some finishing skill off the break to bring it within four.
The crowd were at fever pitch baying for an unlikely Welsh victory but an unforced error on the second tackle of the final set put paid to that thought. Cook Islands held on and avoided the group wooden spoon.
Wales 24 Cook Islands 28
Venue: The Gnoll
Halftime Score: Cook Islands 16-4
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Peter Lupton
2 points - Jonathon Ford
1 point - Keith Lulia