League thriller ends in stalemate

Tuesday February 28, 2017 Written by Published in League
Lai Rogorogoivalu makes a break to set up the opening try against the Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles at The Swamp on Saturday. 17022717 Lai Rogorogoivalu makes a break to set up the opening try against the Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles at The Swamp on Saturday. 17022717

After an intense 80 minutes battle at The Swamp on Saturday, the rivalry between the Avatiu Nikao Eels and Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles remains undecided.

 

In the feature match of round four, both teams settled for a nerve-wracking 24-all draw to remain the only unbeaten teams in the domestic rugby league competition.

The home side took the lead after lanky Lai Rogorogoivalu turned defence into attack, combining well with Sirla Pera to make way for winger Samu Alafua to score under the posts.

Sea Eagles bounced back in style to level the score 6-all with a try in the corner.

Some lethargic play from the visiting team allowed the Eels to sneak in with two more tries to head into the break with an 18-6 lead.

Sea Eagles came much more organised in the second spell and some strong play from Logan Perenisi saw the side cushion the deficit from a Peter Marsters try 18-12.

But the Eels kept their momentum and extended their lead to 24-12 with another well-orchestrated try.

Sea Eagles kept pressing for the equaliser with some great runs from veteran Bobby Hansen and nippy Cheydon Mani, creating havoc in the Eels defence.

A heated moment between Hansen and Rogorogoivalu saw both players sinbinned, but it didn’t stop their teammates from creating an intense battle in the final quarter of the match.

Two tries plus some brilliant kicking from Mani saw the Sea Eagles level the match 24-all with minutes remaining on the clock.

Both teams tried hard to win but had to settle for a stalemate in a tough encounter.

Eels coach Albert Nicholas was not pleased with some of the calls made by the match officials.

He claims the man in charge of the match made some wrong decisions which resulted in the draw.

“I think (there were) some crucial decisions by the referee, some off-the-ball stuff, where he was penalising us and not them,” Nicholas said.

“It was a good game but we do note that there are some issues with the match officials.

It was a tough match and exactly how a grand final should be. It is still early days.”

Sea Eagles mentor Kaka Ama was also pleased with his team’s performance, adding they could have done better.

“We could have got the result we wanted. I think it was a good day for rugby league. We had a good crowd and it’s a draw so both will be happy I guess to be fair,” Ama said.

“It was not what we really wanted, but we will take this one. There are some things we need to work on in the coming weeks.”

Ama also thanked the supporters for turning out in numbers and boosting their performance.

In the other premier matches, Arorangi Bears beat Tupapa Panthers while Aitutaki Sharks recorded their first win of the season against Takuvaine Warriors.

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