Pasifika Sipoti | RNZ News

Barrumundis skipper disappointed with loss

Papua New Guinea Barramundis captain Assad Vala said he was disappointed after his side missed out on an opportunity to record their first-ever T20 World Cup win and pointed to the inability of the batters to adapt to the new pitch at the Providence Stadium in Guyana.

The side went down by a close three wickets loss on Thursday.

“I think we didn’t bat as well as we would have liked. A lot of soft dismissals,” Vala conceded at the post-match press conference.

“On that wicket, we didn’t add up quickly on what was a good score. I think anything just over 100 was a good score on that wicket. It was a challenging wicket to bat on. They bowled really well as well. But a lot of soft dismissals from us put them [Uganda] on top. And they never gave us any chance to get back into the game. So, credit to them as well.”

The Post Courier in Port Moresby said the batters accumulated nearly 62 percent of dot balls – 72 deliveries or 12 overs in total – which resulted in false shots, not least by Tony Ura and Sese Bau, coming on the back of a half-century against the West Indies.

Siaka looked the most composed in his brief 17-ball stay but was run out in the seventh over attempting a risky second run just when the side was starting to recover from a top order collapse.

“I think the batters that played today really let ourselves down,” Vala, who was caught plumb in front second ball of the innings playing back to left-arm spinner Alpesh Ramjani, told journalists.

“It was a new wicket and we didn’t have a target set. We said to ourselves to give a few overs, then see how we go from there. But as the game progressed, we didn’t do that. We didn’t do as we planned. A disappointing batting performance, but I thought that the effort from the bowlers really brought us back into the game. But there weren’t enough runs on the board for them to defend.”

It was as much PNG’s poor day out in the field as Uganda’s perfect show with the ball.

“They bowled really well. When they put us under the pump, we just couldn’t find a way to get out of the slump,” Vala said.

PNG bowlers did well to reduce Uganda to 26 for 5 in their reply but weren’t helped by dropped catches in the field. Charles Amini’s slip proved costly, dropping Riazat Ali Shah when he was 9. He would go on to score a crucial 33 and add 35 for the sixth wicket partnership to hand Uganda their first-ever T20 World Cup win.

“I thought we started really well (with the ball), three early wickets,” he said.

“But you need everything to go your way [when] defending a small total of 77 runs. We created the opportunities at the same time and should have taken those chances. I don’t know what to say anymore. It’s a disappointing effort from us and a disappointing game from us as well.”

The loss means PNG remain winless in their two matches so far with tougher challenges ahead come next week, facing Afghanistan and New Zealand in Trinidad.

“We don’t get the opportunity to play against those teams, so when the opportunity is in front of us, we need to make the best of it and move forward and try to learn as much as possible from the two games. I thought the effort from the first two games were really good. Those key moments that we haven’t nailed at the moment, that’s been disappointing for us.”

PNG now has a week’s break before taking on Afghanistan in Trinidad on 14 June.

Waqa Nalaga (left) and Isaiah Washington-Ravula all set for the Blues game this weekend. Nalaga says he is grateful for the opportunity. Photo: Fijian Drua

Nalaga thankful as he lines up against Blues

Fijian Drua’s Waqa Nalaga says he is grateful to the franchise for believing in him and giving him the opportunity to showcase his talents.

The Navosa man is the son of former Flying Fijian winger Kavekini, who played at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.

His older brother Napolioni also played for the Flying Fijians.

He is named in the Drua starting lineup to face the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday, in one of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific quarterfinals.

Nalaga scored two tries in the 40-19 win against the Melbourne Rebels in Lautoka last Saturday.

The New Zealand based rugger told FBC Sports he was grateful for the opportunity he was given this year, and to play in the quarters at Eden Park.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity and I am grateful to my teammate for backing me up and for always trusting me out there to do what I can do,” he said.

“I look forward to coming back this week and get a dubs again aye.”

Nalaga has been playing provincial rugby in New Zealand, along with flyhalf Isaiah Washington-Ravula.

The duo play for Manawatu and appeared for the Fiji Under-20 last year.

On Saturday, he is expected to face All Black winger Mark Tele’a, a hard man to beat on the go.

All Black centre Rieko Ioane is back in action for the Blues’ clash after he withdrew shortly ahead of the clash against the Chiefs with a hand injury last weekend.

It’s do-or-die time in Super Rugby Pacific this weekend as the competition reaches its knockout rounds and quarter-final action.

In Wellington, Ioane’s All Blacks midfield partner, Jordie Barrett, will captain the Hurricanes again as regular skipper Brad Shields returns to action via the replacements bench against the Rebels.

The Melbourne-based outfit are boosted by the return of Wallabies fly-half Carter Gordon, who is back after a two-week absence due to concussion symptoms in what is potentially the club’s last-ever match after Rugby Australia announced last week that they had taken the decision to axe the Rebels from Super Rugby Pacific.

Meanwhile, Drua coach Mick Byrne says they are looking forward to their owm fans cheering for them tomorrow.

He told FBC Sports the team will come out firing at Eden Park doing what they’re well known for and they will not be backing down easily.

Fifteen of the matchday 23 players named by coach Byrne featured for the Drua in last season’s quarter-final match.

The Drua and Blues will play at 7.05pm at Eden Park in the quarterfinal.

Blues match-day 23: 1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2. Riccitelli, 3. Marcel Renata, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 5. Josh Beehre, 6. Akira Ioane, 7. Dalton Papali’i, 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 9. Finlay Christie, 10. Harry Plummer, 11. Caleb Clarke, 12. AJ Lam, 13. Rieko Ioane, 14. Mark Tele’a, 15. Stephen Perofeta; Reserves: 16. Kurt Eklund, 17. Joshua Fusitu’a, 18. Angus Ta’avao, 19. Cameron Suafoa, 20. Adrian Choat, 21. Taufa Funaki, 22. Corey Evans, 23. Cole Forbes.

Fijian Drua match-day 23: 1. Livai Natave, 2. Tevita Ikanivere, 3. Mesake Doge, 4. Mesake Vocevoce, 5.Leone Rotuisolia, 6. Etonia Waqa, 7. Kitione Salawa, 8. Meli Derenalagi (c), 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 11. Waqa Nalaga, 12. Kemu Valetini, 13. Iosefo Masi, 14. Selestino Ravutaumada, 15. Ilaisa Droasese; Reserves: 16. Zuriel Togiatama, 17. Emosi Tuqiri, 18. Samu Tawake, 19. Isoa Nasilasila, 20. Motikiai Murray, 21. Elia Canakaivata, 22. Peni Matawalu, 23. Caleb Muntz.

Sione Havili Talatui is congratulated by Moana Pasifika head coach Fa'alogo Tana Umaga.

Moana Pasifika honour players

Moana Pasifika honoured their players for the 2024 season at its annual awards night, held on Wednesday evening.

The Auckland event celebrated the club’s most successful season yet.

Sione Havili Talitui took out the top honour of Moana Man of the Year and the Tangaloa Award for the Best Defensive Player.

A Moana Man is considered a leader in every way, a trusted teammate who speaks with his actions by preparing and performing at the highest standards of excellence, while demanding excellence from his peers.

Lotu Inisi took home four awards including the Forward of the Year, Maui Award for Best Attacking Player and the Players’ Player of the Year. The number 8 has been a powerhouse for Moana Pasifika this season, consistently an outstanding performer every week.

He also shared the Johnston Associates Fans Player of the Year with his brother and dazzling back Fine Inisi.

In his maiden season with Moana Pasifika, Julian Savea was a solid presence in the midfield taking home the Tuifa’asisina Sir Bryan Willians Back of the Year award.

Hard-working Lock Allan Craig was awarded Niu Rookie of the Year, while Alistair Saulala was named Moana Pasifika Under 20s Player of the Year. He was a key figure in the team that competed at the Super Rugby Under 20s Tournament in Taupō.

Departing foundation player Solomone Funaki was the recipient of the Tautua Award. The spirit and the essence of tautua is ‘leadership through service’ and this award honours Funaki for his selfless contribution to the team.

It was also a special night for Henry Taefu who won the Galue Award, presented to a player who works diligently on their off-field growth and holistic development.

Funaki along with fellow departing pioneers Christian Lealiifano and Sekope Kepu were recognised for their service to the club over the last three seasons which will leave a lasting legacy.

Meanwhile, veterans Sekope Kepu and Christian Leali’ifano have retired from international rugby, playing their last Super Rugby games for Moana Pasifika against the Crusaders last weekend.

2023 captain Solomone Funaki is leaving the club to take up a club contract in Europe.

Moana Pasifika Awards 2024 winners: Moana Man of the Year – Sione Havili Talitui; Players’ Player of the Year – Lotu Inisi; La’auli Savae Sir Michael Jones Trophy for Forward of the Year – Lotu Inisi; Tuifa’asisina Sir Bryan Williams Back of the Year – Julian Savea; Fans Player of the Year – Lotu and Fine Inisi; Niu Award for Rookie of the Year – Allan Craig ; Laui Award for Best Attacking Player – Lotu Inisi; Tangaloa Award for Best Defensive Player – Sione Havili Talitui; Moana Pasifika Under 20s Player of the Year – Alistair Saulala; Tautua Award – Solomone Funaki; Galue Award – Henry Taefu.

The PNG Hunters prepare for this weekend's game.

Hunters face travel challenge

A challenging road trip awaits the SP PNG Hunters this Sunday, June 9, when they travel to face the Western Clydesdales at the Toowoomba Sports Ground in Round 13 of the QRL Hostplus Cup.

The Hunters compelling 2024 campaign has hit a slight speed bump in recent weeks, following a superb start to the regular season during which PNG toppled some of the QRL competition heavyweights.

Back to back losses against the Mackay Cutters and Souths-Logan Magpies in the last fortnight however has put a dampener on that fast start to the year.

The Hunters camp said the importance of combinations and team cohesion has been stressed in those two losses, with Head Coach Paul Aiton being forced to navigate injuries to key players.

The likes of Joshua Lau, Whallan Tau-Loi, Robert Mathias, Valentine Richard, Junior Talin and Sakias Komati have all been unavailable at different times over the last month and this young Hunters squad has felt the pinch of that instability.

Far from looking for excuses, Aiton has acknowledged the disruption while welcoming the challenge that comes with it.

“Obviously we’ve been disappointed with the results over the last two weeks but we know we’re working in the right direction,” Aiton said.

“It’s been a bit unstable lately with players coming in and out. We’re a bit short on our edges at the moment but there’s no excuses and it’s a great opportunity for some of our squad players to come in and step up to the challenge.”

Regardless of the personnel available, scoring points has not been an issue for this improving Hunters outfit in season 2024.

Currently ranked second across the Hostplus Cup competition for total points, the Hunters have shown they can break down even the best defensive teams in the QRL.

Few rival forward packs can match it with PNG’s power game through the middle of the field while the spine quartet of Judah Rimbu, Joshua Lau, Jamie Mavoko and Sanny Wabo has linked smartly to orchestrate points in good-ball.

Against a Souths-Logan side stacked with NRL contracted talent last week, the Hunters attack managed an impressive seven tries from just 19 completed sets. The Magpies simply didn’t have an answer to PNG’s momentum around the ruck when they played to a plan in attack and the Hunters piled on the points from there.

It was only some isolated moments of ill discipline on either side of the ball that allowed Souths-Logan to maintain an early lead through until full time, and Aiton stressed the focus this week is tidying up those lapses.

“We’ve been really good in patches, particularly with the ball. Attack isn’t a problem for us, we just need to keep working on our discipline and staying in our systems in defence,” Aiton said.

“Communication has been a big focus this week. We know if we can keep the talk up and stay connected it will go a long way to tightening up our edges.”

A 32-30 Round 8 win over the Redcliffe Dolphins saw the Clydesdales bank their first competition points just over a month ago, but a string of three narrow losses since has left them with just one win from their first nine games. Boosted by the home ground advantage on Sunday however and given the expected freezing conditions, the Clydesdales present a danger game for the SP PNG Hunters this weekend.

These clubs clashed twice in the 2023 regular season with PNG coming out on top in both fixtures. It was a tight contest early in the year as the Hunters repelled a late comeback attempt to bank a 20-10 win in Round 1, before a seven-try haul in Round 13 saw PNG flex their class in a 40-point shut-out.

Player to Watch

With boom-rookie playmaker Joshua Lau out with a minor injury in QRL Round 13, the SP PNG Hunters will look towards halfback Jamie Mavoko and hooker Judah Rimbu to steer the ship in attack.

Now two of the more senior players in this young Hunters squad, Mavoko and Rimbu have been crucial to the Hunters fast start to the year.

Netball series set to roll off in Brisbane

The 2024 PacificAus Sports Netball Series rolls off in Brisbane on Monday.

The event will feature the top three Pacific netball teams in Tonga, Fiji and Samoa.

Next week’s tournament will be the fourth in three years.

The Tongan Tala, champions in the last three, will be defending their title against the rest of the field.

Namibia, Singapore and the Australian First Nation selection, who will be making their debut at the event, will provide the international touch at the week-long competition.

Matches will be held at the Nissan Arena in Brisbane, with Fiji and Singapore featuring in game one on Monday afternoon.

The play-offs and the grand final are scheduled for Saturday, 15 June.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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