23 Oct 2017

Sport: Vanuatu too strong for Solomons in league test

1:27 pm on 23 October 2017

The Vanuatu rugby league team has retained bragging rights over Solomon Islands after a 40-20 victory in Honiara at the weekend.

In the third test between Melanesian rivals, Vanuatu raced to a 20-8 lead at half-time before the home side fought their way back into the contest to ensure a close finish.

Saturday's test was the first to be played in Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu team manager and board member Ben Howard said they were definitely made to work for their victory.

"The game was in the balance, we were only up by ten, and all the momentum was with them and we were lucky enough to take an intercept try and run 90 metres, which sort of turned the momentum of the game," he said.

"But yeah it was definitely in the balance in that second half, with Solomons in the crowd behind them they definitely lifted.

"We felt we were pretty dominant in it but yeah Solomons were definitely in the game right up until the very end."

Vanuatu made it three straight wins against Solomon Islands.

Vanuatu made it three straight wins against Solomon Islands. Photo: Vanuatu Rugby League

Ben Howard said the Melanesian nations were "rivals on the field and friends off it," having both come through into the international game at the same time, and try to share resources and help each other where they can.

He believed the future was bright, with plenty of upcoming opportunities at the international level.

"Obviously there's the Emerging Nations World Championship in 2018, we've got the Pacific Games in 2019 in Samoa where rugby league nines will be a part of it and then looking to the 2021 World Cup hopefully nations like Solomon Islands and Vanuatu can at a minimum play in the qualifiers for that, which would be in 2020," he said.

"So there's definitely a platform to build on on an international level but for us it's really about building the game at the domestic level.

"At the moment we've got in two provinces we've got the game established - we want to take the game to more provinces and we also want to get women involved as well, and we also want to get the kids and get into the schools and do some development work, so there's a lot of work to do".