A sensational corner try two minutes from time elevated Cook Islands to a thrilling 24-22 win over Fiji in their SP Brewery Pacific Cup rugby league game at the Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby yesterday.
Vocal, flag-waving Fiji supporters were singing a dirge for Cook Islands when winger Dominic Peyroux smartly latched on to a well-placed kick from pivot John Ford to score the winner.
Fiji was leading 22-20 at that stage with the game seemingly won when it was grabbed from them by Peyroux with the dexterity and precision of a ballet dancer.
The conversion attempt was unsuccessful, however, the game was in their bag as the Cook Islanders took off their jumpers and entertained an appreciative crowd with song and dance.
Cooks Islands led for most of the match, however, the never say die Fijians fought back to level the scores 20-20 with a 73rd minute try to centre Mike Ratu, goaled by pivot Wes Naiqama, to set the stage for a thrilling finish.
After shocking Samoa in Cairns last weekend, Cook Islands came in with all guns blazing and with tries to forward Tinirau Arona and halfback Daniel Fepuleai, the first of which was goaled by Fepuleaia, strolled to an early 10-0 lead.
An initially disorganised Fiji got its act together midway into the first half with consecutive tries to winger Akuila Vate and backrower Lepa Naga, the second goaled by Naiqama, to level 10-10 at the break.
A domineering Cook Islands opened up the second stanza with a goal to Fepuleai in the 44th minute followed by tries to Peyroux (49min) and Fepuleai for a 20-10 lead before Fiji stepped on the high gear.
Tries to winger Vate (67min) and Ratu (73min), both goaled by Naiqama, including the second from the corner, saw Fiji in front for the first time and the game looking as good as won.
Singing Fiji supporters were suddenly quite when Peyroux leaped into the air for the winner.
Cook Islands 24 (Peyroux 2, Fepeleai 2, Arona tries; Fepuleai 2 goals) bt Fiji 22 (Vate 2, Naga, Ratu tries; Naiqama 3 goals). Scrums: Cook Islands 9-8. Penalties: Fiji 3-1.