Group D is proving to be one of close contests as the Cook Islands have narrowly defeated Wales 18-12 in an entertaining contest. 

With many believing the Cook Islands were a side that should put Wales to the sword, it was instead the Welsh who started the more threatening of the two sides.

Wales showed their pride and spirit, staying in the contest for the entirety of the game, despite not winning a World Cup game in 22 years.

The Welsh scored the first try as a deft grubber from Josh Ralph found veteran Rhodri Lloyd to just dive over.

The Kukis would soon hit back, however, as Esan Marsters showed off his skills to make a classy break before finding Anthony Gelling in support.

The lead did not last long, though, as Wales retook the lead.

Ralph was again involved and this time, he found Ollie Olds who ran a nice line to score and put the Welsh up 12-6.

A penalty on the stroke of half-time to the Cook Islands saw them narrow the deficit to 12-8.

Down but not out, the Cook Islands needed some more pizzazz in the second half and as it wore on, they started to take over the contest.

Their try eventually came when Davvy Moale powered through some tired Welsh defence and carried several defenders with him to score.

The Kukis then went back-to-back quickly with veteran utility Brad Takairangi starting to pull some strings.

A pinpoint crossfield kick from him found Steven Marsters who soared highest and did the rest to score.

The win was crucial for the Kukis but Wales can leave with their heads held high.

Cook Islands half Jono Ford admits his side was lucky to win but believes grit got them over the line in the end.

“I’m a bit lost for words,” Ford said.

“We weren’t good enough but we got the win so we’re happy with that.

I think we just showed a bit of grit there in the end.”

Wales coach John Kear knows that his side was right in the game until the end but not capitalising on previous chances cost them.

“There’s a lot of emotion involved,” said Kear.

“We were in there right at the end.

“We probably had half a chance at the very end but we just didn’t manage to take it.”

Cook Islands 18 (Gelling, Moale, S. Marsters; G: S. Marsters 3) def. Wales 12 (Lloyd, Olds; G: Fozard 2).

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Esan Marsters (CKI)

2. Josh Ralph (WAL)

1. Davvy Moale (CKI)

Wales half Josh Ralph

By ricky

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