Avatiu Eels are raring to go all out to prove a point to their supporters when they host defending champions Tupapa Panthers at home today.
The Rarotonga Club 15s round six clash at The Swamp will be a crucial one for the hosts after their recent loss.
The George Fatafehi-coached Eels are still hurting from last week’s 11-21 loss to Arorangi Cowboys.
Club president Bim Tou-Kiriau said they have talked about their mistakes during the training sessions this week.
“We were devastated after that loss. We made mistakes and we have talked about it. We have told the players to play by the referee’s calls,” Tou-Kiriau said.
“We are playing the top seed team in the competition and we are playing at home so the players are fired up.”
The Panthers had the last laugh when the two teams met earlier in the season, winning the match 19-16.
Competition coordinator Ben Koteka said: “The unlucky Eels, who made most of the play that day, were unlucky not to score any points in the last eight minutes of play as they were virtually camped inside the Panthers 22 metre zone.”
“The Eels will also rue the fact that they allowed the Panthers to get off to a flying start in the third minute of play via a 60-metre solo-try to their fleet-footed fullback Beniasi “Flash” Dakuwaqa.”
Koteka said if the Eels can get off to a solid start and keep the possession away from the Panthers X-factor backline then “we will be in for another cracking game of rugby between these two champion clubs”.
The Panthers will be hoping to extend their unbeaten run to four matches.
However, coach Darren Piri is wary of the challenge from the Eels.
“We always look forward to improving from our last match and that’s the goal going into this week’s match. Avatiu will be coming all out to prove a point especially after last week’s loss and its always great and exciting to play them at their home ground.”
Piri said they were fortunate to have some depth in the squad with players stepping up to cover various positions.
The Eels new young loose forwards Genesis Piri and Aden Kapi and propping duo Stanley Tobia and Toru Katuke will be key players for them in this clash.
Speedster Dakuwaqa and lively hooker John Vano will lead Panthers charge.
The Eels versus Panthers match will kick off at 4pm.
In the other Senior A clash, winless Takitumu will take on Arorangi Cowboys at 2.30pm.
When these two teams met in round one, the Cowboys were comprehensive winners by 40-12.
Ben Koteka said: “The Cowboys ability to maintain possession, build pressure and score points late in the first half (Cowboys led at half time by 28-7) was the major difference between the two teams.”
“Although Takitumu put up a spirited challenge, their inability to create enough ‘go forward’ ball for their exciting backline and also unnecessarily kicking away hard-earned possession was part of their downfall.”
However, minnows Takitumu proved last week against the champion Panthers, especially in the first half, that they are a good team.
“If they can stay focused and maintain their intensity for the full-80 minutes then they could surprise.”
Utility player Mark Tuaati and outside backs Sailosi Nagi and Tomasi Bikaka will spearhead Takitumu’s campaign while the Cowboys will be led by their loose forwards Rob Heather and Tanire Mokoroa
Avatiu Field – 11am: Juniors U10, U12, & U14s – Quick Rip, half & full field
(Refs: Club Officials); 12.20pm: U16 Rugby 10s (2x 20mins) (Refs: Ben Koteka, Assist. Ref: Club Officials); 1.10pm: U19 – Town vs. Country – Rugby 15s (2x 35 mins) (Refs: William Taripo, Assist. Simi Teiotu/Peter Godfrey); 2.30pm: Senior A - Arorangi Cowboys vs. Takitumu (2x 40mins) (Refs: Paul Allsworth, Assist. Ref: Paul Peryroux/Dawn Crummer); 4pm: Senior A – Avatiu/Nikao Eels vs. Tupapa Panthers (2x 40 mins) (Refs: Teokotai Billy Tuaivi, Assist. Ref: Tua Ngaputa/Kora Kora. Sub Bench: Peter Godfrey/Simiona Teiotu). Entry fee: Under 16s free and adults $3.