The Port Vila Powerhouse fought back from a two-try deficit to beat Mele Eels 12-8 in the first ever women’s rugby league match to be played in Vanuatu at the weekend.
Pamela Malapa’s try gave the Eels a 4-0 lead at the half-time break.
Belinda Chilia doubled their advantage with a try after the break before the Powerhouse surged back with three quick tries to Stephanie Laloyer, Lehina Faurua and the match winner from Elisha Lana William’s to run out 12-8 victors.
Port Vila prop So’o Motuliki said the match was an historic occasion for the women’s game in Vanuatu.
“At the end of the day, it is not about who won the game, it is about groups of women who played the first ever women’s match to pave the way forward for the sport in Vanuatu,” she said.
“Yes, Powerhouse won but what’s a win if the sport does not go further than just one match?
“The game yesterday for me personally was Port Vila Powerhouse and Mele Eels creating the beginning of rugby league for women in Vanuatu.”
Mele Eels Coach Joshua Mackenzie said both teams played with a huge amount of passion and quality.
‘Vanuatu now has the foundation to be a real power of the Pacific in regards to women’s sport and the village of Mele is proud to be leading the way and we encourage other villages all over Vanuatu to put together a team and join us in the future,” he said.
Port Vila Rugby League used Saturday’s game as a platform to build a domestic competition heading into 2019.
Vanuatu Rugby League are also looking at forming a national women’s team as early as next year, with a number of countries enquiring about matches with Vanuatu.