‘It’s warfare’ says Top Eel

Tuesday February 28, 2017 Written by Published in League

In a repeat of last year’s rugby league showdown, Avatiu Nikao Eels will today host Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles in probably the most anticipated match of the 2017 season.

 

The feature match of round four will be held at The Swamp, starting at 5pm.

Defending champions Eels maintain an unbeaten run against the Sea Eagles who are keen to “prove a point” in today’s tussle.

Both teams are undefeated so far this season with the host recording convincing wins in both their matches while Sea Eagles boast two wins and a draw.

A lot is at stake in this clash and alongside the bragging rights, the winner will also take the lead in the 2017 domestic rugby league competition.

Eels’ coach Albert Nicholas said the clash between the two teams would be “trench warfare”.

With some off-field dramas between the clubs including the player transfer issue going on since last year, Nicholas admitted it would be a grudge match for them.

“We have lost some players to them this year so be it. We just have to move on with our players who I know will step up for this warfare filled with tussles,” Nicholas said.

“It will be the team with the biggest heart that will dominate the other. The feeling in the air is that this will be a titanic battle and there is no doubt about it.”

Sea Eagles mentor Kaka Ama brushed aside the “grudge match’’ claims adding, for them, it was all about playing good footy.

He said after successive losses against the Eels, they have a point to prove to themselves and their supporters.

“It’s all about the game and not what has been happening off the field. It doesn’t matter to us,” Ama said.

“It doesn’t do any good to the game itself. We want to win the match fair and square on the field by playing some hard game of footy and that’s it.

“The rest of it doesn’t concern us. We are here to promote the game and that’s what we will be doing.”

Ama said it would be a tough battle, considering the Eels have proven a side to beat, especially at The Swamp.

He said after last week’s draw against the Arorangi Bears, the team had learned some key lessons heading into this crucial encounter.

“For me, no team in this competition is a weak team. Everyone comes with the aim to win and we have to step up in order to win.”

Meanwhile Nicholas said they would be running a fundraiser during the game today to help with their two young players who are hospitalised in New Zealand.

“One of them is Joe Hoeflich’s younger brother who underwent an operation. We will be running a fundraiser to support with their medical cost.

“We encourage fans of both teams to come down in numbers and enjoy the match. Those who are not fans of Eels or the Sea Eagles can come and support the occasion (fundraiser).”

In the other premier league clash today, Tupapa Panthers will host Arorangi Bears at Victoria Park at 5pm.

      

Fixtures

Eels-Sea Eagles at The Swamp – U11, U13, U15 (Club Officials), 3.30pm Reserves (Ref: Kora Kora, Touch Judges: Poso Ngaroi/Pius Mitchel), 5pm Premier (Ref: Tuaitu Ngaputa, Touch Judges: Koa Kopu/Poso Ngaroi, Bench Officials Jeff Murry/William Taripo)

Panthers-Bears at Victoria Park – 1.45pm U11 (Ref George Brown), 2.30pm U13 (Ref George Brown), 3.30pm Under 19 (Ref: Paul Allsworth, Touch Judges: Pete Robertson/June Henry), 5pm Premier (Ref: Nga Takaiti, Touch Judges: Dawn Crummer/Peter Robertson, Bench Official: Bishop).

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