Do-or-die for Eels, Panthers

Monday April 24, 2017 Written by Published in League

In a battle for the top place in the premier league competition, defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels are set for a titanic tussle against the Tupapa Panthers at The Swamp today.

 

The do-or-die encounter is expected to bring plenty of action on the field as both teams will hope for a win in their bid to secure the minor premiership.

Eels with 11 points are placed on third spot behind leaders Panther, who are on 13 points – a point above second placed Titikaveka Bulldogs.

The home team with the inclusion of their overseas players will be hoping to continue with the momentum they set this week after the 51-6 win against Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles.

Eels coach Albert Nicholas said they were wary of the Panthers who have proven to be a tough nut to crack in the crucial stage of the competition.

In the round one encounter at Victoria Park, the Panthers edged out the Eels in a thriller.

“Tupapa is no walkover. They have been in this situation as many times as we have, so experience and the calibre of the team is up there with the best and I suppose we just have to come on the day and try our best to match them,” Nicholas said.

“Obviously we had a big game earlier this week and we had to really work hard to recover from that. I think we did but we are still carrying a couple of niggling injuries here and there.

“In times like this during the season with the pressure on the team and injuries mounting on us, it will be a test of character for the team.”

Panthers coach Darren Piri shared similar sentiments.

He is aware that the Eels will be back with a vengeance at their home turf after the close loss in round one.

“This is a crucial stage of the competition and every team needs to win. We will go there with the intention to win but we know they will be ready to defend their turf,” Piri said.

“Drawing against the Bears last week was not good for us. At this stage, it’s all about winning games.

“We got a few injuries but they are no excuses. We have to just come up with our best on the day.”

Both coaches are calling on their fans to come out in numbers and back their teams.

Nicholas said while the top place was on their sight, they were not looking too ahead of themselves but take a game at a time.

“I’m really close to Darren. Darren and I went to school and grew up together, playing footy against each other and I wish him luck and I also wish the best for our team.”

In the other premier matches, Arorangi Bears will host the Bulldogs while the Sea Eagles will take on Takuvaine Warriors at home.

All premier matches kick off at 4.30pm.

            - Rashneel Kumar

Fixtures

Ngatangiia – 4.30pm Premiers: Ngatangiia-Takuvaine (Referee: June Henry, Touch Judges: Paul Allsworth/Paul Peyroux, Bench officials: Jeff Murray/Tai Nelio); Avatiu – 3pm Reserves: Avatiu-Tupapa (Referee: Poso Ngaroi, Touch judges: William Taripo/ Bishop Bishop), 4.30pm Premiers:  Avatiu-Tupapa (Referee: Tua Manea, Touch judges: William Taripo/Bishop Bishop, Bench officials: Simi Teiotu/Papa Pat); Arorangi – 1pm Under 11 (Club official), 1.45pm U13 (Dawn Crummer), 3pm U19s Arorangi-Ngatangiia (Referee Pete Robertson, Touch judges: Koa Kopu/Dawn Crummer), 4.30pm Premiers Arorangi-Titikaveka (Referee: Nga Takaiti, Touch judges: Koa Kopu/Pete Robertson, Bench officials: Dawn/ Pio).

 

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