Rugby League World Cup: Wales lose third successive game
The Cook Islands recorded their first ever Rugby League World Cup win with a 28-24 result against Wales in Neath.
Last Updated: 10/11/13 5:35pm
The Kukis triumphed for the first time in the history of the tournament at the sixth time of asking, albeit only after holding off a brave Welsh fightback in the second half.
Centre Keith Lulia ran the show, scoring a first-half try, while Isaac John, Daniel Fepuleai, Dominique Peyroux also crossed to put the Cook Islanders 22-4 ahead. In the end, though, a 73rd minute try from Jonathon Ford proved crucial after the hosts had threatened to deny their opponents a maiden win.
Christiaan Roets bagged a brace of tries, and Lloyd White and Rhodri Lloyd also touched down after the break following a first-half effort from Rob Massam.
Yet their late surge was not enough to see them pick up a first point, following previous defeats to Italy at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the United States in Wrexham.
The Cook Islands dominated early territory, and they deservedly went ahead after eight minutes when hooker Fepuleai powered over from close range and Chris Taripo added the extras.
Wales briefly responded when a break from Elliot Kear led to Massam touching down, though by the break they had conceded twice more at the other end of the field.
Lulia crossed unopposed just after the half-hour mark before Penrith Panthers player John skipped his way across for the Cook Islands' third try as the interval loomed.
There was no immediate sign of things improving after the restart for Wales either, Peyroux going over and Taripo's third goal from four attempts opening up an 18-point gap.
That try seemed to finally sting Wales into life; they fought back with tries for White and Roets in the space of eight minutes, with the former also successful with one conversion attempt.
Lloyd then scored 14 minutes from time, Danny Jones this time adding the goal via an upright, and all of a sudden Iestyn Harris' side found themselves only two points adrift.
However the Cook Islands refused to let that elusive first win slip from their grasp and Ford's well-worked try finally killed off any prospects of Wales completing their dramatic comeback bid.