In what will probably be the game of the season, the Sea Eagles were able to come out on top over the Titikaveka Bulldogs 22-20 thanks to a last minute try at a packed Nukupure Park.
The visiting Bulldogs looked like they had pulled out the win when hooker James Tofelau crossed the line to make the score 20-18, with only minutes left.
However, on the ensuing kick-off the visitors were penalised, giving the Sea Eagles prime position.
Camped down inside their opponents’ 20, they continued to turn down kickable penalties, which would have levelled the scores, something that some supporters were calling for.
However, the team showed immense self-belief by continuing to search for the four-pointer, and were rewarded in the best way possible.
Had you left at half time, you likely would have been surprised by the close score, such was the Sea Eagles’ dominance at the start of the game.
Right from the off the home team hammered their opponents, no small feat considering they were playing the reigning champions.
They were helped out by sloppy handling errors from the Bulldogs, who spoiled a number of try-scoring chances with fumbles.
The Sea Eagles were also occasionally a bit over-eager when they got down the other end, throwing cut-out passes or speculative off-loads that did not suit the wet conditions.
But they were the first to cross the line, going up six points in short order.
They soon added another through some exceptional work by Dominique Noo, who side-stepped multiple defenders to touch down under the sticks.
One of the reasons the Bulldogs struggled to contain their opponents early on was the spectacular play by the Terekia brothers, George and Juwaan.
George was tough as nails in the playmaker role, and his physical running, which always required at least two defenders, opened lanes for his outside runners.
His brother in particular profited from this, and his clever running gave the opposition plenty of trouble.
Pakia Willie also commanded constant attention with his clever dummy half running.
But as the game wore on, the Bulldogs began to assert themselves, particularly down the right-hand flank.
They scored tries in quick succession, and a 40/20, followed Tofelau’s touchdown, it looked like the Bulldogs had claimed the win.
But the Sea Eagles preserved and pulled out a famous victory. And that should be a cause for concern for their opponents, come round two.