Eels through to the finals

Monday May 22, 2017 Written by Published in League
Avatiu Nikao Eels’ Samu Alafua makes a desperate tackle but cannot stop the Panthers from scoring a try during the team’s close 26-24 win on Saturday. 17052102 Avatiu Nikao Eels’ Samu Alafua makes a desperate tackle but cannot stop the Panthers from scoring a try during the team’s close 26-24 win on Saturday. 17052102

Defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels made it through to the domestic rugby league showdown after a dramatic semifinal win over Tupapa Panthers over the weekend.

 

The match, played on Saturday at the BCI Stadium in Nikao, saw the Eels come from behind to pip the Panthers 26-24 in an exciting battle.

The clash had its own share of drama following the replacement of the referee at halftime due to injury.

A controversial try from the Panthers followed by the Eels threatening to walk off the field summed up the intensity of the do-or-die clash for a place in the final against Titikaveka Bulldogs.

Panthers came into the match fired up and piled some early pressure on to the Eels.

Eels were forced to defend in their own territory by the Panthers who put on a hearty display during the match.

The Panthers worked well along the flanks, driving past the Eels defenders with strong fends and galloping runs.

Their forwards also put on a brilliant performance, gaining crucial ground with some powerful drives.

Eels maintained calm under pressure, increasing their tempo in the second spell to claim the close win.

Despite a jittery first half, the side managed to hold on to possession, especially in the dying stages of the match, to get the winning try.

They also defended valiantly against the determined Panthers attackers who showed strong will to spoil the Eels’ party late in the remaining half.

Eels mentor Albert Nicholas was relieved with the win but pointed out a blunder by the match officials which he said could have cost them the match.

“The Panthers’ (final) try came from eight tackles. That could have cost us this game. We were obviously not happy with that,” Nicholas said.

“But we are relieved to have survived the test and we are looking forward to the final against the Bulldogs.”

Bulldogs made it to the grand final after beating the Eels 13-12 in the opening round of the playoffs last week.

Panthers defeated Arorangi Bears 22-17 to make it into the semis.

The domestic rugby league competition final will be played this weekend at the BCI Stadium.

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