The reigning domestic league competition champions smashed last year’s winner Queensland Kukis 41-15 in the final at the BCI Stadium on Saturday.
The Darren Piri-coached Panthers played with lot of intensity from the opening whistle and maintained their good start throughout the match. The side ran rampant, scoring eight tries to Kukis’ three.
The Kukis, which were impressive on both days, made a good start in the showdown with the opening try but were unable to keep up to the pressure from the Panthers.
The side from Australia was deprived of possession but when with ball in hand, the Kukis lacked the firepower to drive past the Panthers wall.
The Panthers which finished second behind Arorangi Bears after the preliminary rounds made it through to the final beating the Bears 27-15 in the playoff.
The Bears then took on the Kukis for a place in the grand finale and lost again 0-16. The side settled on third spot.
After their win, the Panthers walked away with shield and major prize money of $5000.
The tournament organisers thanked all eight teams that participated in this year’s Nines tournament.
They also thanked their sponsors, Arama Wichman of Cook Islands Building Supplies, Infrastructure minister Robert Tapaitau, Teina Bishop of Bishop’s Cruises/Aitutaki Village, Clive Arona of Multi-Crete Australia, Jeanne Matenga of CITV and Cook Islands Radio and Tokoruru Tangua of the Convenience Store.
“Most importantly to all the people of Rarotonga, fans and supporters, thank you so much for your continued support to our game of rugby league.”
1. Winner and CIRL 9s Champion - Tupapa Panthers, 2nd placing & Runner up - Queensland Kukis, 3rd placing - Arorangi Bears, 4th placing - Avatiu Eels, 5th placing - Titikaveka Bulldogs, 6th placing - Aitutaki Sharks, 7th placing - Ngatangiia/ Matavera Sea Eagles 1, 8th placing - Miyaki Allstars
Day One – Queensland Kukis 34 Ngatangiia Sea Eagles 1 14, Arorangi Bears 21 Avatiu Eels 12, Tupapa Panthers (WBD) Ngatangiia Sea Eagles 2, Nga/Mat Sea Eagles 1 21 Aitutaki Sharks 18, Avatiu Eels 21 Miyaki All Stars 20, Titikaveka Bulldogs (WBD) Nga/Mat Sea Eagles 2, Aitutaki Sharks 4 Queensland Kukis 22, Miyaki All Stars 21 Arorangi Bears 24, Titikaveka Bulldogs 10 Tupapa Panthers 28, Queensland Kukis-Nga/Mat Sea Eagles 2, Arorangi Bears 36 Nga/Mat Sea Eagles 1 25, Panthers 54 Sharks 18.
Day Two – Tupapa Panthers 28 Miyaki Allstars 29, Queensland Kukis 12 Avatiu Eels 15, Arorangi Bears 18 Titikaveka Bulldogs 16, Aitutaki Sharks 33 Miyaki Allstars 8, Nga/Mat S.Eagles 2 -Avatiu Eels WBD to Avatiu Eels, Nga/Mat S.Eagles 1 16 Titikaveka Bulldogs 31. After the preliminary rounds the rankings: Top 4 – 1. Arorangi Bears, 2. Tupapa Panthers, 3. Queensland Kukis, 4. Avatiu Eels, Bottom 4 – 5. Titikaveka Bulldogs, 6. Miyaki Allstars, 7. Aitutaki Sharks, 8. Ngatangiia/Matavera Sea Eagles 1. Playoffs: Arorangi Bears 15 Tupapa Panthers 27, Titikaveka Bulldogs 32 Miyaki Allstars 18, Queensland Kukis 25 Avatiu Eels 10 (KN), Aitutaki Sharks 35 N/M S.Eagles1 6 (KN). Semi Final 1 – Arorangi Bears 0 Queensland Kukis 16 (Queensland Kukis goes to the grand final and Arorangi Bears takes 3rd placing prize). Semi Final 2 – Miyaki Allstars versus Aitutaki Sharks. Aitutaki Sharks won by default and played Titikaveka Bulldogs for 5th/ 6th placing. Finals (5/6th) Titikaveka Bulldogs 33 Aitutaki Sharks 4. Grand finale: Tupapa Panthers 41 Queensland Kukis 15