Top guns in first-up clash

Monday June 26, 2017 Written by Published in Rugby Union

The 2017 rugby union season is set for an intense start with last year’s Senior A finalists battling in the opening round today.

 

Defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels will take on former champions Takuvaine Reds in The Bond Store match of the round at The Swamp at 4pm.

The Reds, which held the Rarotonga Club XVs title from 2013 to 2015, lost it to the Eels last year.

But the Vase Samania-coached team made its intention about reclaiming the coveted trophy this year clear after winning the pre-season Steinlager Sevens last week.

Reds defeated Eels 17-0 in the final at the Happy Valley Field.

But things are expected to be different with the Eels keen to kick off their title defence campaign on a high.

Coach Wally Tangata, who will miss today’s match due to work commitment, said they have been trying to put together a formidable side for this match.

“It’s been a slow start to our season, to be honest. The preparation was not like what we had at this time last year and what we expected heading into this year’s competition,” the national XVs coach said.

“But we have a game plan for this match and we hope it works for us.”

Eels will be led by veteran loose forward Clive Nicholas. Speedsters Samu Alafua and John Penu are expected to boost their backline alongside the likes of Sirla Pera and Tua Ravula.

“We will have most of our local players alongside the imports that’s featured last year leading us in this match. We know Takuvaine will be a tough ask, but we will play to our best and hope to come away with the win.”

Reds which has a good mix of local and imports will be led by the likes of fullback Viiga Ruepena, loose forwards Mana Havi and Filipo Schmidt.

In the other Senior A matches, Arorangi Cowboys will host Titikaveka Bulls while Ngatangiia/Matavera Dragons will take on Tupapa Panthers at home.

Fixtures; Arorangi Cowboys-Titikaveka Bulls at Arorangi Field – 3pm Senior B (Ref: Junior Takairangi, Assist Ref: Club Official/Peter Godfrey), 4pm Senior A (Refs: Arthur Emile, Assist Ref: Junior Takairangi/Peter Godfrey); Avatiu/Nikao Eels-Takuvaine Reds at Avatiu Field – The Bond Store - Game if the Week – 1pm U13 (2x 20minutes) (Refs: Club Officials), 1.50pm Senior B (Refs William Taripo, Assist Ref: William Povaru/Club Officials), 3pm Under 19 (Ref: Ben Koteka, Assist Ref: William Povaru/Dawn Crummer), 4pm Senior A (Refs: Tua Ngaputa, Assist Ref: Ben Koteka/Dawn Crummer); Ngatangiia/Matavera Dragons-Tupapa Panthers at Ngatangiia Field – 1pm U11 (2x 20minues) Refs: Club Official’s, 1.50pm U13 (2x 20minutes) Refs: Club Officials, 3pm Under 19 (Ref: Simiona Teiotu, Assist Ref: Paul Peyroux/Club Officials), 4pm Senior A: (Refs: Abel Masters, Assist Ref: Paul Peyroux/Simiona Teiotu).

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