Cooks still have a chance

Tuesday July 03, 2018 Written by Published in Rugby Union
Lock James Kora makes a break against Hong Kong in the Rugby World Cup qualifying match at the BCI Stadium on Saturday. 18070257 Lock James Kora makes a break against Hong Kong in the Rugby World Cup qualifying match at the BCI Stadium on Saturday. 18070257

It’s not all over yet for the Cook Islands national rugby side, despite their 26-3 loss to Hong Kong in the opening leg of the Rugby World Cup qualifying series on Saturday.

The Stan Wright-coached side remains optimistic of staging a major upset – winning the second leg this weekend in Hong Kong by more than 23 points – to make it through to the next stage of the qualifiers.

The team left the country on Sunday night with hopes of putting on a much better performance.

Coach Wright said the players have watched the video footage of the match and realised they can overcome the deficit in the second match.

“The belief is there, which is a good start, and all we have to do is take care of the little details that were missing from the match and we have every chance of winning that game and winning it well,” Wright told Radio New Zealand.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that we (can come back). Will it be mission impossible? Nah – I won a Heineken Cup against Northampton when we were 36 points down at halftime and we came out and won the game. So can we do it? Yes, of course we can. Is the belief there? Absolutely.”

In the opening clash against the highly favoured Hong Kong, Wright said they had enough opportunities to win the game but simply failed to take them.

The national side conceded four tries in the loss, with three coming in the opening spell.

The Sam Anderson-Heather-skippered side created some good opportunities, but lacked the finishing touch to get the ball over the line.

“We just weren’t clinical enough. Just the little things like that when you go back and look over the game, like I did last night and this morning, it was just not being clinical enough,” Wright told Radio New Zealand.

“Our accuracy wasn’t there – if you take away those two first tries and the ones we missed, there wasn’t really much in it. We just didn’t get the rub of the green – our mistakes cost us.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong is quietly confident of bagging another win this weekend and making it through to the repechage tournament which will determine the final spot in the RWC 2019 to be held in Japan.

            - RK/Radio New Zealand

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