Parramatta Eels players Brad Takairangi, Marata Niukore and Tepai Moeroa have starred in the Cook Islands Rugby League 66-6 thrashing of South Africa at Ringrose Park, Wentworthville on Friday 21 June.
The victory sees the side take one step closer to qualifying for the 2021 World Cup, despite not playing an international match since a defeat to PNG two years ago.
Takairangi was given the honour of captaining the side and the Eel, who was playing in the halves, had his hand in controlling the side around the park, breaking through the South African line on several occasions before finishing the game with two try assists.
Takairangi’s first try assist coming from inside his own half, busting through some tiring defence through the ruck, before drawing the fullback and finding his halves partner Troy Dargan in support to score under the posts. Takairangi came up with his second try in the final minute of the first half, hitting Niukore with a cut out ball close to the line as his Eels teammate crashed over out wide for a try.
Niukore performed strongly playing in the centres, with solid defence and several trademark bulldozing charges that proved a handful for South Africa. The Eel scored two tries in the opening half of the clash, finishing off a dominant forty minutes that saw the Kukis lead 46-0 at half time.
The first of Niukore’s tries was an individual 70m effort where he burst through the line from inside his own half, before showing a turn of speed to streak past the opposition fullback untouched to finish off his long range effort.
The fast flowing of points slowed up in the second half, with South Africa crossing for their lone try in the 62nd minute of the clash, but the Cook Islands stayed in control for the second forty to cap off a 66-6 victory.
The Tony Iro coached Cook Islands side will now play the United States later this year for a place in the next world cup tournament in England.