Nigeria versus Ghana sporting rivalry sparked into life once again at the weekend in the final game of the Middle East and African MEA Rugby League championship at the playing fields in Legon, Accra.
Nigeria’s Green Hawks ran away with a convincing 30-4 victory over their opponents in Saturday’s final to retain their title on a day the nation marked her 62nd independence anniversary.
Led by young Betfred Super League players, St Helens’ half back Rio-Osayomwanbo Corkill and try scoring Hull KR back rower Daniel Okoro, the Nigerians were too strong in the first half, establishing a 22-0 lead at the break.
Nigeria coach Bolu Fagborun explained that it was important his boys set the tempo for the game right from the start:
“I wanted them to start hot and they did, kicked well, put Ghana under pressure and to play in the right parts of the field, they handled the conditions really well.
We spoke a lot during the week about what this tournament meant for us and seeing whether this team can take us all the way to France 2025 and the World Cup, we really have challenged them to progress and they showed their ambition in the sport.
This region has a lot of potential.”
Nigeria posted six tries, the opener from former London and Castleford three-quarter Tuoyo Egodo, loose forward Michael Ayodeji adding two to three he posted in the semi final while Gabriel John, who emerged man of the tournament, landed three.
Kenya clinched 3rd place with 16-0 win over Cameroon to make it thier 1st competition win in a 1st meeting between both nations.
Winning the competition means that Nigeria alongside Ghana will play in next year’s MEA tournament in South Africa which will serve as a qualifier for the 2025 Rugby League World Cup in France.
Daniel John, Isah Lawal, Tuoyo Egodo, Olisa Kelvin, Abdallah Balogun, Gabriel John, Rio Osayomwanbo, Ibrahim Suraj, Isa Omale, Emmanuel Onyekwe , Jude Abrackson, Daniel Okoro, Michael Ayodeji
(subs): Julian Godwin, Bashir Usman, Azuka Chika, Yuseef Akeem
Tries: Egodo (15), Ayodeji (20, 67), Okoro (25), Osman (39), Lawal (76)
Goals: John 3/6
Isaac Akuoko, Chris da Gama, John Bless Mensah, Desmond Geotrah, William Pearce Biney, Collins Ofosu, Sean Sabutey, Riddick Alibah, Philip Asomani, Nigel Sackey, Emmanuel AcheamPong, Bahah Bright, Oliver Puman
(Subs): Jonas Moorkaar, Levi Osei, Jordan Annan, Jonathon Adotey
Tries: Bless Mensah (44)
Goals: Da Gama 0/1
Half time: 22-0
Referee: Aaron Moore (England)