by NICK CAMPTON
PAPUA New Guinea have scored their second straight Pacific Test victory with a 32-22 win over the Cook Islands.
Fullback Stargroth Amean was the hero for the Kumuls, running in two tries and saving another with a fine cover-tackle on his opposite number Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Both of Amean’s tries came from probing runs down the Kumuls left side and both times he created something from nothing, snaking through the would-be defenders to score.
The Cook Islands put in a valiant effort and had the edge in terms of NRL experience but the cohesion, fitness and the composure of the Kumuls won them the day after the scores were locked at halftime.
The second half featured a series of Kumuls tries — after Amean completed his double, debutant Nixon Putt rumbled 25 metres to score after latching onto an offload from Tom Butterfield.
Cook Islands centre Esan Marsters grabbed a consolation try in the final moments to add a little more respectability to the score line.
Once again the benefits of the PNG Hunters was apparent — 12 of the 17 Kumuls are either current or former Hunters.
In their four seasons playing in the Queensland Cup the Hunters have exposed local players to a consistent, high-intensity environment and the results are starting to show in the national side.
A neat flick pass from Storm winger Justin Olam put Adex Wera over in the corner to open the scoring for PNG in the 14th minute.
They extended their lead when Wartovo Puara Jr darted over from close range under the posts after a run of penalties.
The Cook Islands struck back after Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad busted through the middle from deep in his own half.
Daniela completed his double 10 minutes after halftime after he latched onto an Isaac John kick, grubbered for himself and cleaned up the scraps following a fumble from Olam.
Nicoll-Klokstad left the field in the second half due to concussion and did not return.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA 32 (S. Amean 2, W. Puara, N. Put, A. Wera tries. A. Boas 6 goals) but COOK ISLANDS 22 (G. Daniela 2, U.Baker, E. Marsters tries. John 3 goals) at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. Referee: James Childs.