June 16 2014
Thames Valley beat Cook Islands.
With a World Cup qualifier against Fiji on June 28 looming the Cook Islands played two warm up games in New Zealand in 2014. The first was against Thames Valley in Paeroa on June and was won by the Valley 19 – 12. The other match, a second class fixture, was also lost, to the Blues Development team 14 -34.
The game against Cook Islands and a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Counties Manukau (lost 0 – 68) seemed to have had a positive effect on their Heartland Championship campaign. They started with a draw and three wins, with one of the victories being over playing through champions Mid Canterbury. But the season finished on a disappointing note with four losses, none by a wide margin, and missing out on a Lochore Cup semi-final by the narrowest of margins.
Thames Valley 19. J Turner try. B Hamilton con, 3 pen. Turner pen.
Cook Island 12. J Rapana, S Setaphano tries. S Vaevae con.
Referee. John Dustow (Thames Valley)
The listing in the Rugby Almanack shows the Cook’s team as made up of players from New Zealand, Australia, Japan and France. None are listed as playing in the Islands.
Cook Islands had won the right to play in the final Oceania World Cup qualification by winning the 2013 Oceania Cup tournament in Papua New Guinea in July 2013. The other teams involved were PNG, Tahiti and Solomon Islands. The final, between the Cook Islands and PNG, played before a crowd of 7,000 in Port Moresby., was a thriller. The Cooks trailed 12 – 3, came back to build a 17 point lead, then had to survive a four try burst by the hosts to win 37 – 31.
The Cooks had no joy in their World Cup qualifier in Lautoka, Fiji winning 108 – 6 but could take some consolation from having come as far as they did.