The round two clash at The Swamp will be a do-or-die for the Eels if they want to finish the preliminary competition on the top.
The Eels lost their opening match to defending champions Tupapa Panthers 6-22 at Victoria Park last week. In the other Senior A match, the Cowboys thumped Titikaveka Bulls 82-31 at Raemaru Park.
Cook Islands Rugby Union development manager Ben Koteka said today’s match would be a crucial one for the Eels.
Koteka said the Clive Nicholas-led Eels cannot be judged by last week’s loss.
He also said the score line was not a true reflection of the closeness of the match.
“The Eels were unlucky not to score on few occasions with some big line breaks form midfielders Lai Rogorogoivalu and Vaehoolu ‘Leki’ Leka with support from the elusive running of fullback Tevita Niusama,” Koteka said.
The Eels lacked in finishing – an area they need to sharpen ahead of the Cowboys match.
Nicholas conceded lack of proper training in lead up to their opening match was a major letdown.
“We are very disappointed with the loss. We didn’t had a flash training and the result speak for itself. Sad for the forwards because they won all the set pieces and possession for us but we backline were unable to use the opportunities they created,” he said after the loss to Panthers.
“But it’s the first game of the season, we can only get better.”
Cook Islands Rugby Union has cut the 2019 season short to eight weeks. This means there will only be one round of preliminary competition and each game is important for the participating five teams.
“I told the boys that we need to get ready for the next round because every game got to count. We need to put the first loss behind. We have some quality players in the team and we just need to find the combination.”
The Cowboys seem to have a perfect combination working for them after the huge win in round one.
However Koteka said they would be up against a tougher opposition in the Eels this weekend.
In the other Senior A match, Takuvaine Reds will play their first match of the season, taking on neighbours Tupapa Panthers.
At the jersey blessing ceremony earlier this week, the Reds players were reminded of the importance of the match given the rivalry they share with the Panthers.
Koteka said the Panthers would head into the match to be held at the Happy Valley Field as the favourites.
“The 2018 Club champions will be looking to continue with last week’ impressive second half performance with their hard working forwards looking to supply sufficient possession for their dynamite backline led by in form centre Tua Ravula.
“For Takuvaine Reds, this will be their first hit out of the season so unsure of what to expect although they are expected to be very competitive on their home turf.”
Avatiu Field (Junior Rugby Quick Rip – 15 Minutes, 1 way per match) – 1pm U11: Arorangi-Avatiu (Field A Avarua side), U11: TKV-Tupapa (Field B –LDS side); 1.20pm U11: Arorangi-Tupapa, U11: TKV-Avatiu; 1.40pm U11: Avatiu-Tupapa, U11: TKV-Arorangi; 2pm U13: Arorangi-Avatiu, U13: TKV-Tupapa; 2.20pm U13: Arorangi-Tupapa, U13: TKV-Avatiu; 2.40pm U13: Avatiu-Tupapa, U13: TKV-Arorangi. Rugby10s (Full Field) – 3pm U16 Country-City, 3.30pm U19 Town-Country. Rugby 15s - Senior A (Match of the Day) – 4pm Avatiu Eels-Arorangi Cowboys.
Takuvaine Field – 4pm: Snr A: Takuvaine Reds-Tupapa Panthers