Panthers face unbeaten Eels

Monday April 30, 2018 Written by Published in League
Tupapa’s Othniel Joseph prepares to take on an Avatiu/Nikao Eels defender during their 14- all draw in round five. Tupapa’s Othniel Joseph prepares to take on an Avatiu/Nikao Eels defender during their 14- all draw in round five.

Tupapa Panthers will look to rebound from their first loss of the 2018 season as they travel to The Swamp today to take on the Avatiu Eels in round 12 of the domestic rugby league competition.

Having drawn the last time they played, 14-all in round five, it almost seemed a given that these two teams would both meet again with a zero in the loss column.

But in the last round the Panthers were upset by the reigning champion Titikaveka Bulldogs in spectacular fashion, going down 22-4, making their chances of overtaking the Eels for the number one spot look all but impossible.

If they lose this afternoon, it will make three weeks out of four that they have failed to secure a win.

For the home team, they will look to rebound after a close result last week, just squeezing out a 30-26 win against a resurgent Arorangi Bears side.

The near loss was a reality check for the unbeaten team, who looked like they were coasting after their smackdown of top-four hopefuls the Sea Eagles the week before.

That may have been their best performance of the season, as they took the game by the scruff of its neck with their devastating running game and powerful, aggressive tackling.

In the lead-up to the game, Tupapa will likely have planned for the destructive nature of players like Tua Ravula, Puna Hiro and Tevita Niusama, who will be key players to stop if they are to have any chance of a win.

In the other clash of the day, the Bulldogs travel to Takuvaine Warriors in Happy Valley, as they look to solidify their top-four placing.

The Bears are on a bye, while the Sea-Eagles and the Aitutaki Sharks played last night at Nukupure Park.

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