In The Bond Store match of the week, Panthers defeated Arorangi Cowboys 24-15 at Raemaru Park on Saturday. The Darren Piri-coached side defeated Takuvaine Reds 30-18 in the opening round.
In the other Senior A match, The Eels, who overcame the Cowboys 15-0 in round one, defeated Titikaveka Bulls 29-5 at Teimurimotia Park over the weekend.
The win sees defending champions Eels maintain the pole position on the points table followed closely by the Panthers.
Against the Cowboys, the Panthers, who marched into the match as the favourites and dominated possession, had to work hard to get the win.
The scrappy stop-start game did produce some good tries to both teams, but lacked the intensity that was anticipated from both sides
Midway through the match, the Panthers seemed in control with possession and score line but the persistent Cowboys team stayed in the fight and would not let go.
The Cowboys did create enough opportunity to score points, but they were not clinical enough to execute the chances presented to them.
“On a positive note, it was pleasing to see so many under 19 players debut (they have eight U19 players) for the Cowboys as this bodes well for the future of the club provided these young players remain teachable,” said Cook Islands Rugby Union development manager Ben Koteka.
The highlight of the match was Panthers’ 80 metre try to fleet-footed right winger Kave Mocedike after a midfield break by Jovilisi Naqatawa.
The Cowboys also created some exciting moments in the match, especially the try to their young centre James Strickland after a big sideline break by 17-year-old left winger Taua Heather.
The Heather brothers, Taua, who currently attends Scared Heart College in Auckland and number eight Robert Jr, and bustling prop Daniel Tonorio were the outstanding players for the Cowboys.
For the Panthers, number eight and captain Thomas Toa, midfielder Jovilisi Naqitawa and frontrowers John Vano and Davey Mato stood out.
There will be no club competition this weekend due to Te Maeva Nui celebrations.
Tupapa Panthers 24 (Tries; Jovilisi Naqitawa, Kave Mocedike, Othneil Joseph and John Vano, Conv: Othneil Joseph (2)) Arorangi Cowboys15 (Tries: James Strickland and Andre Iro, Conv and Pen: Leo Roa).
Avatiu Eels 29 (Tries: Toru Katuke(2), Tevita Williams, John Pierre, Lai Rogorogoivalu, Conv: Clive Nicholas and Bim Tou) Titikaveka Bulls 5 (Try: Teariki Matenga Jr). Best players for the Bulls were there forwards; Clark Ngaau, Eddie Qio, Fernandez Patia and former CI rep player Richie Connal and their backline general Teariki Matenga Jr. Best players for the Eels were barnstorming prop Toru Katuke, livewire fullback Tevita Williams, open side flanker John Oierre and super-sub utility back Lai Rogorogoivalu.