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The touring Niue Rugby League team has recorded a 50 – 22 win over the South African Rhinos in the first of two internationals between the nations.

Played at Grizzlies Park in Pretoria, the visitors conceeded two early tries in the open 10 minutes to be down 12 – 0 before fighting back to record their first ever victory on African soil.

Commenting on the match to Radio NZ, Niue Head coach Brendan Perenara said a lot has changed since the two nations last played 18 months ago.

“I don’t think the score tells it all. The game was pretty hard – they has us in probably the first half overall, they had it over us but we ended up getting through once we started getting our sets into attack,” he said.

“We thought we were acclimatised by the time we got to the fifth day of the test match…but as we saw on the actual game the guys were blowing hard in the first half so we had to have drinks breaks, it was like 37 degrees over here playing in this heat.”

“We’ve got a couple of injuries and niggles – they’re in rehab now. It looks like we’ll have a tough one with those getting them back on the field but hopefully they’ll come through.”

Brendan Perenara said this was the first major overseas tour for the Niue team and it was a learning experience for the players and staff.

“They only had five from their last game, 2015…the team was a bit more experienced this time and with them having the home advantage which you could see on the score – they’ve scored more tries – and they had us 12-0 in the first ten minutes too…the boys dug deep and started getting their sets together but it was pretty tight the whole game,” he said.

The second international will be played on Wednesday evening, again at the Grizzlies Park in Pretoria.