Sweet revenge for Panthers

Monday March 27, 2017 Written by Published in League
Tupapa Panthers player Junior Kirikava fl icks a pass as Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles defenders close in on him at Victoria Park on Saturday. Panthers won 38-18. 17032637 Tupapa Panthers player Junior Kirikava fl icks a pass as Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles defenders close in on him at Victoria Park on Saturday. Panthers won 38-18. 17032637

Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles’ campaign in the 2017 rugby league competition is in trouble and they know it.

 

They have to get back to their top gear soon if they want to make the top four in the domestic competition.

The 18-38 loss to Tupapa Panthers on Saturday was a shocking start for them in the Round Two competition.

Sea Eagles, which finished unbeaten in round one competition, lost eight points from the 10 they earned through four wins and two draws. The side was found in breach of competition rules.

With only two points heading into Saturday’s clash, Sea Eagles needed to make a winning start and maintain the momentum in round two to help them sail through to the top four.

But after a lacklustre display at Victoria Park over the weekend, their campaign may have hit rocky waters.

For the Panthers, the win was a major boost to their campaign, keeping them in the lead alongside the Titikaveka Bulldogs which defeated Aitutaki Sharks 36-0 in the lone premier match on Friday.

It was also a sweet revenge for their heavy round one loss at Nukupure Park.

Panthers started well with a try from the sidestepping Jamain Iroa in the opening five minutes of the match to lead 6-0.

The hosts extended the lead to 8-0 after the visitors were penalised for a high tackle.

The backpedaling Sea Eagles put on some gas and barged into the Panthers territory with their eyes fixed on the try line.

Their relentless effort was rewarded by successive tries from Joshua Tufunga and Mark Tuaati which saw them take a 12-8 lead.

Indiscipline continued to mar the Sea Eagles’ and handed the Panthers a chance to strike back.

A determined run by Seruvi Ralulu Sr saw Panthers regain the lead 14-12 before heading into the break.

The Sea Eagles, briefly without their key player Logan Perenisi, who was sinbinned late in the opening spell, failed to make a comeback in the second spell. The team looked disorganised and faltered under the pressure that the Panthers forwards created and which was taken advantage of by their backline dominated by the Fijian imports.

Panthers scored three scintillating tries through Tyrone Marurai, speedster Jovilisi Nagatana and Seruvi Sr to lead 30-12 before the Sea Eagles scored through Perenisi.

But the Teina Savage-skippered Panthers were not done yet as Nagatana raced for his second try followed by a two-pointed from Iroa which sealed the 38-18 win for them.

Sea Eagles missed some key players which seemed to have spoiled the momentum they set in round one.

“Since that first game, it really haunted us. They (players) felt the shame as they walked off the field, they felt the shame when they came back the following week to training and so it’s been a goal for the boys the whole season to beat them,” Panthers manager Delaney Yagona said.

“We needed a good start to the second round just to get the momentum going especially we got the bye (this week). Having the bye, there is always this mindset that if other team ahead wins, you go further down the ladder short of thing.

“It was about doing the little things right. We stuck to a particular game plan the whole of first half of the season and it was just maintaining that and doing things better.”

Sea Eagles coach Kaka Ama conceded they lost to a better side.

“In the second 20 minutes, we lost our way there, went away from our game plan and I think we just made too many mistakes, too many errors that cost us the match,” he said.

“Tupapa had a good side. It was a strong game and I did predict that it would be different from the first round and it showed they have stepped up and we need to stay up with the play.

“It’s our first loss of the season and a good wake up call for us.”

In the other premier match on Saturday, Arorangi Bears were stunned by TKV Warriors which won the match 24-16.

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