“It is a good start for the national sevens team,” says team manager Ewan Cameron.
It was a solid start for the team, who kicked off their efforts with a compelling win against a determined Nauru side. It took just two minutes for the Cook Islanders to get on the board, with Leki Vahefoou scoring the first try after exposing Nauru out wide.
The second try came only moments later, through a brilliant individual effort from Matamanea Matapakia. The traffic was all one way following this, with the Cook Islands scoring two more tries and coming away winners 22-0.
“Nauru wasn’t a team that the Cook Islands were going to underestimate on the field,” Cameron says.
The team met world champions Fiji in their second match and proved that they could compete with the best.
Fiji scored their first try four minutes into the game, but some solid defence from the Cook Islanders held the Fijians at bay for the rest of the half. At the halftime break, Fiji led by just seven points.
The Cook Islands held strong in the second half as well and put pressure on the Fijian side but were unable to convert their opportunities.
Fiji managed to score two more tries before the hooter, coming away eventual victors 21-0.
“It is a great result, considering the Fijians are top class players, world champions and also considering their previous score (in their game against Wallis and Futuna,” Cameron says.
“Our goal was to keep the score below the 40 mark, and we achieved that.”
Despite the loss to Fiji, the Cook Islands men still have a chance of playing for a bronze medal later this evening, but only if they can get past both Wallis and Futuna and New Caledonia.
The first placed teams from both pools will go on to compete for gold, whilst the two second placed teams from each pool will battle it out for a bronze.
“Our next two games will be important as we are aiming to make the top two in our pool and play in the bronze medal final,” Cameron says.
-Liam Ratana in Apia, Samoa