On Friday, former champions Avatiu Nikao Eels thumped Aitutaki Sharks 54-18 at The Swamp to ensure a perfect start to their season under new coach Terry Piri.
In the other two matches played on Saturday, Arorangi Bears overcame Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles 32-14 and Tupapa Panthers defeated TKV Warriors 38-24.
While all three matches were significant for various reasons, the Bears versus the Sea Eagles clash at Raemaru Park proved a special one.
For the first time, father Alex Kermode (Sea Eagles) and son Peter Kermode (Bears) faced each other on the field in what made the battle an exciting one for both the home and away fans.
Veteran Alex, who has played for Arorangi in past seasons, was one of the senior players in the Sea Eagles outfit, while Peter added strength to a young-looking Bears team.
And it was Peter that went home with the bragging rights after glimpses of some impressive play that helped the Bears get their season off to a winning start.
Bears did not take too long to assert their dominance on the scoreboard after a series of passes allowed Agostini (Gas) Heather to sneak in with the opening try.
Minutes later, Spoon Marsters scored another try for an early 12-0 lead.
Sea Eagles regrouped after a poor start and made good use of an opportunity to score a try through Ngamata Miriau, cushioning the deficit to 6-12.
Their momentum was cut short however after Sam Taoro extended the Bears’ lead with a well-worked try from the middle, leaving the home team leading 16-6 at the break.
Coached by Tama Tuavera, the Sea Eagles seemed rejuvenated at the start of the second spell but they were unable to convert that energy into much-needed points.
An impressive Andre Iro, gaining plenty of ground with ball in hand, forced his way through for the Bears’ fourth try, extending their lead to 22-6.
The Sea Eagles replied with consecutives tries from Miriau and Tuku Samuel – one of which could be a contender for the try of the season – to get the match within fighting distance at 22-14.
But the overpowering Bears maintained their push for the try line and ended the match the way they started it by scoring two quick tries from fullback Taoro to win 32-14.
While the match had a fair bit of flair it also had its share of unforced errors caused by the slippery condition of the field.
However the fans, who braved the occasional showers and chill, were kept warm from some hard-hitting and bone-crunching tackles which drew cheers and jeers from both sides.
The Eddie Teraitua-coached Bears looked sharp in the opening and closing 10 minutes, exploiting the unsettled Sea Eagles at will, but were unable to continue that for the greater part of the match.
Sea Eagles lacked coordination at times, but they did surprise many with their performance. The side is likely to bounce back in the upcoming rounds.
The match also attracted some tourists who were impressed with the level of enthusiasm for the game from both the players and the fans.
Argentine Lucila Gatti, who is visiting Rarotonga with her friend Mereana Goodman, said the atmosphere during the match among the loyal fans was quite intense.
“This is my first rugby league match and I really enjoyed watching it. The fans were just awesome. There is so much passion for the game among the local people,” Gatti said.