Scotland (4) 12

Tries: L Faughlin, S Plumridge, Turland Goals:

Pacific Islands (16) 44

Tries: Faiumu 3, Tuimavave 3, Sini, Anderson Goals: Vai 6

Report by Toney Dosen for Photos courtesy of Narelle Spangher, RLWC2017.


After being hurriedly put together following the late withdrawal of the New Zealand Universities team, the Islanders booked their date in the decider with defending champions Australia on the back of a powerful performance by their forward pack.

Blockbusting centre John Faiumu and winger Joe Tuimavave took full advantage of this dominance to each score a hat trick of tries.

The Islanders got off to the perfect start in just the second minute when Tuimavave finished off a left side spread in the corner for the opening try. Robert Vai converted to give the Pacific Islands a 6-nil lead.

With a overwhelming dominance of field position and possession for the first half hour, the Islanders should have got their second try in the 10th minute when Faiumu made a 50 metre bust up the middle of the field before taking the tackle with fullback Daniel Cassone unmarked in support.

Faiumu made amends seven minutes later when on the back of a Scottish dropped ball, the giant centre strolled through brittle goal line defence from a scrum to score his first try under the posts.  Vai added the extras to give the Islanders a 12-nil lead.

On Scotland’s first meaningful attack inside the Islanders’ half in the 25th minute, half back Liam Faughlin burst through down the left to score the first Scottish try wide out.  Callum Smithson missed the conversion to give leave the Pacific Islands with a 12-4 lead.

After another Scottish turnover, a Pacific Islands left hand movement through the hands saw Tuimavave grab his second try in the corner for a 16-4 lead after Vai missed the conversion.

The Islanders’ held their 16-4 lead to the half time break as both sides had chances to score for no result in the closing stages of the first half.

The Pacific Islands wasted no time in asserting their authority when just 90 seconds into the second half a sweeping right side movement found winger Marli Sini who scored with a spectacular dive in the corner for a 20-4 Pacific Islands lead.

Six minutes later, Cassone injected himself into the Pacific Islands backline in a left sided raid to send centre Thomas Anderson over to score.  Vai converted from near touch to extend the Islanders’ lead to 26-4.

With the bit between the teeth, the Islanders then clicked up a gear to put the Scots – and the Semi-Final – to bed.

Another right sided raid in the 53rd minute saw Tuimavave complete his hat trick in the corner for a 32-4 lead with Vai’s conversion.

With the Scots offering little more than token resistance in defence by this stage, Faiumu barged over from close range to score his second try in the 59th minute for 38-4 with Vai’s conversion, before repeating the dose in identical fashion in the 67th minute to bring up his hat trick for a 44-4 lead after Vai added the extras.

To their credit, as the Scots at least came back in the closing 10 minutes when they scored the final two tries of the match against a Pacific Island defence with their minds already on their appointment with Australia in the Final.

Scottish centre Scott Plumridge finished off a neat Scottish movement down the right with 10 minutes left, before a Smithson chip and chase was cleaned up by lock Dan Turland who strode away for the last try of the match with under five minutes left to close out the Pacific Islanders’ historic 44-12 win.

Pacific Islands coach Tony Puletua could not have been more prouder of his team’s charge to a berth in the decider.

“I’m just so happy for the boys and the efforts they have put in over the last few weeks.”

The effort just to make the final is massive. I think they thoroughly deserve it, and they’ll get their chance on Sunday”, Puletua told after the match.

The 2003 Penrith Panthers NRL Premiership winner then sounded out a warning to the Australians about Sunday’s Final.

“Like we have always said in this tournament, we’re not here to make up numbers – we’re here to take out the whole thing.”

We’re looking forward to Sunday – and we can’t wait”, Puletua said.

Scottish coach Nathan Graham lamented his side’s first half performance as the major factor in the last page of a prospective Scottish fairytale being ripped out.

“We needed to complete our sets early on in the first half, and we didn’t do that.  We tried to starve them of possession – and when you keep coughing (the) ball up, it’s tough – and we ended up defending for the majority of the first half”

Graham explained to after fulltime.

“Then, we didn’t have any energy in the tank in the second half – and we ended up just clinging on”, Graham said.

The Pacific Islands will now square off against defending champions Australia in the 2017 Universities Rugby League World Cup Final at Penrith’s Pepper Stadium at 4:15pm AEST on Sunday to bring the Festival of World Cups to a climax.

Scotland:3 Finlay Hutchinson, 5 Damien Genocchio, 24 Mike Dowding, 4 Scott Plumridge, 2 Archie Andrade, 1 Liam Faughlin, 20 Callum Smithson, 10 Gavin Reed, 18 J Plumridge, 17 Niall Hall, 12 Ethan Flowers, 13 Justin Faughlin, 11 Dan Turland.

7 Doug Chirnside, 8 Luke Westman, 19 George Geddes, 22 Jordan Duncan

Pacific Islands: