A young Cook Island outfit has qualified for next weekend's rugby league Pacific Cup with an upset 22-20 win over Samoa at Barlow Park in Cairns.
The Cook Islands team, consisting mostly of Toyota Cup players, played inspired football against a Samoan line-up bristling with NRL and English Super League talent, and were the better side despite the teams finishing with four tries apiece.
The Cook Islands signalled their intent early, crossing for two tries in the opening seven minutes to race to an early 10-0 lead.
Samoa hit back when quick hands along the line sent winger Misi Taulapapa over in the corner in the 13th minute and drew level through a converted try to Patrick Ah Van in the 34th minute.
The Cook Islands had the final say of the half though, with Makimare muscling his way over for his second try in the 37th minute.
Centre Brad Takarangi's conversion gave the underdogs a 16-10 halftime advantage.
Samoa struck first after the break when replacement forward Masada Iosefa offloaded for Ah Van to post his second try and reduce the lead to 16-14.
However, the Cook Islands kicked clear again in the 64th minute when halfback Daniel Fepuleai powered over for a converted try and a 22-14 advantage.
Big match experience seemed to be favouring Samoa as they punched a number of holes in the Cook Island defence.
And when second-rower Harrison Hansen backed up good work from lock Joseph Paulo and five-eighth Kyle Stanley to score a converted try in the 70th minute, the favourites trailed by just two points and threatened to take the match.
However, they were unable to land the killer blow and may have regretted the decision not to use international stars Tony Puletua and Francis Meli who had flown to Cairns after St Helens' loss to Leeds in the Super League final.