Champion Eels set for opener

Friday February 10, 2017 Written by Published in League
Coach Albert Nicholas, middle, and his Avatiu Nikao Eels will take on Takuvaine Warriors in their opening match tomorrow at the Happy Valley. 17020915 Coach Albert Nicholas, middle, and his Avatiu Nikao Eels will take on Takuvaine Warriors in their opening match tomorrow at the Happy Valley. 17020915

Defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels get into action this weekend in their opening match of the 2017 domestic rugby league competition.

After placed on a bye for the opening round of the competition last week, the premier giants are all set to take on the Takuvaine Warriors at the Happy Valley tomorrow.

The Albert Nicholas-coached Eels made a perfect start to their 2017 season after winning the Cook Islands Rugby League Club Nines tournament earlier in the year.

The side will be keen to continue their unbeaten run when it takes on a defiant Warriors this weekend.

Warriors started their 2017 campaign on a high with a close, but controversial, 23-22 win over the Arorangi Bears last Saturday.

The match which went down to the wire saw some elusive play from a rejuvenated Warriors unit  keen to finish better this season.

Cook Islands Rugby League official John Whitta is expecting an interesting battle between the two tomorrow.

While the Eels will march into the clash as the favourites, all eyes will be on the Warriors who will be hoping to stage a major upset in the early rounds of the competition.

“Takuvaine had a hard-fought game last week and they will also be happy to be at home for what will be a very tough game against Avatiu,” Whitta said.

In the main match of the round tomorrow, Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles will take on the Titikaveka Bulldogs at home in what could be a fiery battle.

Both teams have started their season well with wins last weekend.

The Bulldogs thumped Aitutaki Sharks 56-10 while the Sea Eagles walloped Tupapa Panthers, which is on a bye this weekend, 32-2.

“Both Ngatangiia and Titikaveka had big wins last week so their clash this week will be a big game! Game of the round,” Whitta added.

Meanwhile the Sharks will take on the Bears in the lone premier match today in Aitutaki.

Both teams after losing their opening matches will be hoping to get their campaign back on track with a win this afternoon.

“Aitutaki will be looking forward to getting back home for a game this week after a tough game away last week. They are always tough at home,” Whitta said.

All the premier matches will kick off at 5pm.   

Fixtures

Today: Takuvaine – Reserves at 5pm Takuvaine-Avatiu (Referee: June Henry, Touch judges: Dawn Crummer, Pete Robertson); Aitutaki – Premiers at 5pm Aitutaki-Arorangi (Referee: Tua Manea, Touch judges: Arthur Emile, Andre Tanga).

Tomorrow: Ngatangiia – Reserves at 3.30pm Ngatangiia-Titikaveka (Referee: Poso Ngaroi, Touch judges: William Taripo, George Brown), Premiers at 5pm.

Ngatangiia-Titikaveka (Referee: Nga Takaiti, Touch judges: Pete Robertson, June Henry, Bench: William Taripo, George Brown); Takuvaine – Premiers at 5pm Takuvaine-Avatiu (Tua Manea, Touch judges: Pius Mitchell, Koa Kopu, Bench: Dawn Crummer, Kora Kora).

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