The unbeaten Panthers have defeated TKV Warriors (38-24), Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles (56-6), Arorangi Bears (34-12) and Titikaveka Bulldogs (38-24) so far in the weekly league.
This weekend they face competition leaders Avatiu Nikao Eels in what is expected to be a thrilling encounter at The Swamp.
Coach Piri, who was content with the win over defending champions Bulldogs on Saturday, said there were still areas of concern in the team.
“We gave away a couple of easy tries (against Bulldogs). They were breaking through, and nobody wanted to tackle them. We just need to work on those things,” Piri said.
Against the Bulldogs at home, the Panthers managed to exploit the weak links to amass a healthy lead in the opening spell.
The visitors lacked a decent defensive structure, which allowed Panthers winger Eddie Nicholas to score four tries against them.
“We sort of looked on both sides of the field to see where we can go. When we started on the left heading for the try line, it worked for us, and they kept going on the left. It was actually up to the guys on the field to make that call,” Piri said.
Bulldogs coach Meti Noovao said lack of execution and urgency resulted in the loss.
“We just lacked the execution and our urgency with the ball in completing the set of six wasn’t there. We spoke about it all week because we knew how capable Tupapa is in scoring tries,” Noovao said.
“We needed to protect the ball and have that discipline and mindset right on both attack and defence in this game.”
Gracious in defeat, Noovao congratulated Piri and his Panthers for the win.
“We sort of crept back into the game in the later part, but we looked lost in those halves. It would have been nice to get the two points but it is definitely an opportunity to learn from this, not just for the coaches but for the players as well.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Happy Valley to take on the Warriors this Saturday.
- Rashneel Kumar