The second week of playoffs will see some interesting battles at the BCI Stadium in Nikao tomorrow, from the age group level to the premier grade.
In the feature premier match, defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels will take on Tupapa Panthers in a do-or-die clash in their bid to remain in the run to retain their title.
Eels which finished on top of competition points table after preliminary rounds suffered a narrow 12-13 loss against Titikaveka Bulldogs in the opening week of the playoff last week.
Panthers came from behind to beat Arorangi Bears 22-17 in the other premier playoff to stay in the title race.
Cook Islands Rugby League Association competition co-ordinator Taua Benioni said it was a crunch time for both teams heading into tomorrow’s battle.
“Eels coming from third placing late in the final rounds of the competition and winning the minor premiership, to losing to the Bulldogs by one point and especially having a try disallowed in the dying minutes of the eliminating round, has a second chance to make it through to the final,” Benioni said.
“Panthers ended up third on the ladder at the end of the rounds and snatched a last few seconds win against the most surprising team of the competition, the Arorangi Bears, in last weekend’s knockout top four eliminations.”
Benioni said both teams have met in the past and have put in a strong performance against each other.
He said with Eels coach Albert Nicholas officially announcing his retirement after this season, the pressure will be surely on the team in yellow and blue.
“It’s nothing new to these two teams as they have met numerous times under pressure during finals stages of the competition.
“It’s hard to pick the winner this weekend as in both encounters during the rounds, each team had a win each so it’s a game of chess at this stage. Check mate on Saturday.”
12pm Under 11s Avatiu Nikao Eel-Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles (Refs: Jeff Murray and Teokotai Tuaivi (Billy)), U11s Tupapa Panthers-Arorangi Bears, 12.45pm U13s Eagles-Eels (Ref: William Taripo), 1.30pm Under 19s Panthers-Bears (Ref: Tua Manea, Touch: Paul Allsworth/William Taripo), 3pm Reserves Eagles-Panthers (Ref: Nga Takaiti, Touch: Kora Kora/Arthur Emile), 4.30pm Premiers Eels-Panthers (Ref: June Henry, Touch: Poso Ngaroi/Pete Robertson, Bench officials: Pius Mitchell/Tua Manea).