Australia shook off an opening match, 20-15 loss to New Caledonia to easily beat the Cook Islands 32-11 at the Oceania Championships Tuesday in Wellington, New Zealand. Coupled with the Cook Islands earlier 26-22 defeat of New Zealand, Australia is virtually assured of winning the championship and the accompanying automatic ticket to the World Championships in Croatia next January. (New Zealand would need a 13 goal victory over Australia on Thursday to bump Australia)
New Caledonia, a territory of France and an Associate Member of the Oceania Federation will likely sweep the competition and win the Nations Cup. Australia has beaten New Caledonia previously, but due to the scheduling dates of the tournament, their European based players are not available and they are fielding a developmental team.