Cook Islands pick up historic World Cup victory over France

Sebastian Sternik
Cook Islands Women

Cook Islands picked up a historic World Cup victory and condemned France to the wooden spoon following physical encounter in York. 

Both teams felt the wrath of Australia and New Zealand in their opening two games of the tournament and both knew that their one opportunity of winning would come in this encounter. 

France, who were on the end of a world record defeat to Australia last weekend, were especially intent on picking up their first World Cup win since 2008. However, their task became a lot more difficult as the Cooks opened the scoring in the 17th minute. 

April Ngatupuna put her immense strength on full display as she forced her way over from close range. Kere Matua converted the effort to give her side an early 6-0 advantage. 

Just seven minutes later, France hit back through Melanie Bianchini as she ended her team’s 185-minute scoreless run in the tournament. Les Blues were able to shift the ball out wide and capitalised on an overlap, with Bianchini getting the try. 

However, celebrations quickly turned to frustration. France allowed the following Cook Islands kick off to bounce out of play, handing the initiative back to the Pacific outfit. 

The Cooks took full advantage as Terehia Matua brushed off two French players before crashing over. Another conversion from Matua made it 12-4. 

HT: Cook Islands 12-4 France

That advantage was extended early in the second half as Cook Islands scored just one minute after the restart. Mackenzie Wiki, who scored her team’s sole try against New Zealand, returned to the scoresheet with an effort in the corner. 

France were desperate to avoid another blowout and they hit back shortly after. Elisa Ciria capitalised on a break from Perrine Monsarrat before touching down under the posts. Ciria was able to convert her own effort to make it 16-10.

Cook Islands didn’t appear flustered by that effort and soon they restored order with a try from full-back Alekermay Tuaana 

The player capitalised on build-up play from Matua and Jazmon Tupou-Witchman to cross in the 60th minute. Matua converted for a third time as Cook Islands moved 22-10 ahead. 

France replied with a try from Cristina Song-Puche, though 10 minutes later Tetuanui Agnes Dean powered over from dummy half to maintain the 12-point lead. 

Les Blues closed out the game with a second try for Ciria, though ultimately France ended their World Cup campaign with a third defeat.  

FT: France 18-26 Cook Islands

Cook Islands: Alekermay Tuaana, Mackenzie Wiki, Jazmon Tupou-Witchman, Charlize-Gazelle Tumu-Makara, Daimzel Rongokea, Kere Matua, Anneka Stephens, Karol-Ann Tanevesi, Tetuanui Agnes Dean, April Ngatupuna, Moniqca Mo’ale, Lavinia Kitai, Elianna Walton

Bench: Kennedy Harrison-Vahua, Mireka Dean, Erikana Dean, Terehia Matua, Beniamina Koiatu

Tries: Ngatupuna (17), T. Matua (27), Wiki (41), Tuaana (60), T A Dean (72)

Goals: Matua 3/5

France: Cloe Guillerot, Cristina Song Puche, Melanie Bianchini, Laureane Biville, Anaelle Meunier, Elisa Ciria, Alice Varela, Gaelle Alvernhe, Fanny Ramos, Cyndia Mansard, Elisa Akpa, Perrine Monsarrat, Dorine Samarra

Bench: Jeanne Bernard, Mailys Borak, Zoe Pastre-Courtine, Manon Samarra, Anais Fourcroy

Tries: Bianchini (25), Ciria (48, 76), Snog Puche (65)

Goals: Ciria 1/4

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