Solomon Kurukuru lost narrowly to a strong New South Wales side 3-4 last Saturday in their friendly match at the Dural Sports and Leisure Centre, Sydney.Though they lost they could still take plenty of positives out of the game.
On a freezing cold and rainy day in Sydney, it was always going to be hard for the Kurukuru to find their rhythm, but they still started the better of the two teams and Micah Lealefa soon found the back of NSW's net after some good defensive pressure gave him a clear shot at the goal.
But a number of defensive lapses saw the home side equalize and then go 1-3 up at half time. The pivotal moment of the match came late in the first half when Solomons leaked two goals in one minute, which proved to be too large a gap for Kurukuru to overcome.
The second half saw the boys thaw out somewhat and their play improved as a result. Passes met their target and there was an overall lift in intensity.
Earlier on team captain, Elliot Ragomo scored after a neat pass exchange with Jack Whetney, but NSW soon hit back to keep their two-goal buffer intact.
Kurukuru then threw everything they could at the home side and looked like they could manufacture an unlikely victory after Whetney finished off a classy Ragomo run.
To their credit though, NSW remained strong in defence, with their keeper forced to make a number of crucial saves to secure his team the victory.
Despite the loss, coach Victor Wai'ia was happy with the result, 'The boys played very well,' he said, 'they took their time to get into the game, but when there were some very positive signs for us. The line-up we used meant that the whole team got game time, which was important in the lead-up to Brazil.'
Ragamo was also upbeat, 'it was a good game. The New South Wales side was physical and strong and we weren't focused in the first half and the boys were finding it very cold, but in the second half I think we started to play our game and we were unlucky in the end not to win. It was a good start for us to prepare for this world cup and we can learn a lot from it.'
The team will continue to train at the Dural centre and also use the Blacktown gym before leaving for Brazil on Thursday evening