Cook Islands Shock The World
Nobody gave the Cook Islands a chance.
Why would anyone given they had gone down 76-0 just three days prior, and were going up against the third best team in the world?
They met for the first time eleven days ago as a team, were pulled in from areas in New Zealand and all across Australia, and were on the wrong end of two heavy score-lines to start their campaign.
England is considered one of the powerhouse teams of the World Cup, and they were desperate to regain confidence after falling to the Jillaroos.
So how was it possible for a team recently thrown together on a -130 points differential to defeat them?
They tackled hard, they won the moments, and they literally fought until the end with a try on the stroke of full-time that broke a 16-all deadlock.
It was a magical part of Rugby League history that will never be forgotten, and their coach Ian Bourke could not be prouder.
“It was amazing, words can’t describe what they just (did) for the Cook Islands and what they’ve done for women’s Rugby League,” Bourke says.
“I think it’s the biggest [upset] win in the history of Rugby League to be honest; we got together last Sunday.”
“There was a lot of swearing going on up in the box, the resolve and the resilience that the girls had and then to finish off with the points is pretty impressive.”
For a man that speaks so well and usually has plenty to say, Bourke was almost lost for words in the press conference.
Sitting beside him were sisters Te Amohaere Ngata-Aerengamate and Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, who at stages during the interview hi-fived, and paused to take a moment to let what just happen sink in.
The win goes beyond the game of Rugby League; the Cook Islands women won it for their culture and won it for their family.
So proud were the girls, they performed a post-match haka for the crowd.
“I reckon God helped, that was impossible and God made it possible for us to get that try,” Te Kura said.
“It was just awesome, you could just see the energy, it’s hard to come back from two losses against the two top teams, we just kept pushing through and we thank our management and our coach for getting us through.
“It’s all mental, if you want to win you’ll do anything you can to get it, and that was everyone on the field pushing hard and all of the girls stepped up today.”
She threw the offload that kept the ball alive, which led to the final play, and it was her sister, Te Amohaere, who ended up finishing it off with a try.
As far as family moments go, that would have to be up there with the absolute best.
“We’ve got that culture in the team, we keep our heads up after our losses,” said try-scoring hero Te Amohaere.
“We just enjoyed each others company and really lifted our spirits; we always knew that we had the potential to do the impossible.”
This Rugby League World Cup has now seen three stunning boil overs after Tonga and Fiji both upset New Zealand in the men’s.
The reactions from all three wins show the benefits of the Rugby League World Cup for the international game are limitless.
A lot of work went into this Cook Islands upset, but Bourke admits after their big loss to New Zealand that the focus was fun, and getting enjoyment out of their last game.
Seemingly out of nowhere, they led 16-0 at half-time, and held on for a miracle result.
“At 16-0 it was about continuing to play for their families, it didn’t matter about the result,” Bourke said.
“We did some corrective action at training for the past couple of days, but it wasn’t too much, it was more about filling up, working hard on the inside, working for each other and fixing our defence, and the girls just kept turning up today,
“I couldn’t ask anything extra from them; it’s impressive, I’m lost for words to be a part of this, I’ve got to pinch myself because it’s an amazing feeling
“I’m really proud of them for what they’ve achieved for their culture and their family and for the next generations to come in Cook Islands
“The future is bright.”