Rugby union fans are in for a treat after the national body decided to hold a double header in their weekly club competition.
In the opening round of the Rarotonga Club 15s competition last week, the two Senior A matches were held on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
However, Cook Islands Rugby Union president Simi Teiotu said during a meeting this week, they agreed to hold both matches on the same day and at the same venue.
“There were a number of factors that led to this decision. This will allow teams to get their best players together for the weekly matches and also give spectators an extra match to enjoy on the same gate fee,” Teiotu said.
“The unions hosting the matches will also get an opportunity to raise some funds through gatetakings. We know their income has been affected by Covid-19 so we hope this will provide them with an opportunity to recover some of their losses.”
The second round of the weekly competition which will be played today will see host Arorangi Cowboys taking on Takitumu at 2.45pm followed by the match of the day – Avatiu Eels versus Tupapa Panthers at 4.15pm.
The main match is a replay of the 2019 grand final between these two powerhouse clubs.
Defending champions Panthers made a good start to their 2020 campaign after hammering Takitumu 60-0 last week.
The Eels also made a winning start after overcoming archrivals the Cowboys 16-7 in a tough tussle.
The intense match also saw some heated moments which resulted in suspension of two players.
Cook Islands Rugby Union’s Ben Koteka said Clive Nicholas of the Eels was the only person that appeared before the judicial committee this week and due to his early guilty plea, he received a one-week suspension with conditions.
“One of the conditions of Nicholas’ suspension is to assist with touch judge duties this weekend,” Koteka said.
“The Arorangi player Penitito Lio did not appear before the judicial committee due to work. However, Lio will need to face the judicial committee before any judicial decision is handed down. Until then, Lio is under suspension from playing any rugby.”
Koteka said the Eels would greatly miss the services of their veteran player Nicholas.
However, he said the match should be an exciting one with both teams boasting pace to burn in their backlines.
“So, we do expect to see lots of tries being scored in this match.”
For the Eels, their whole forward pack led by Lee Ponini, Toru Katuke and Sione Likiliki will be the key to their overall performance. They will need to supply their backline with quality “go-forward” ball to put them in a good position to win, said Koteka.
For the Panthers, lanky Fijian winger Ben Dakuwaqa, who scored five tries in last week’s win, will be a key player.
Their number eight and captain Thomas Toa with his “lead from the front attitude” will be the catalyst.
Koteka said: “Expect lots of tries in a fast and furious action-packed match to be refereed by ex-national rep Teokotai “Billy Bush” Tuaivi Jnr.”
After their first-round loss, both the Cowboys and Takitumu will be going all out for a win today.
Koteka said although the Cowboys will start as favourites, they always seem to struggle when they play against their country-cousins.
“With Takitumu a bit better organised this week with good attendance to their training sessions – all will be revealed in the match.”
Takitumu’s first 5/8 Daniel Toa will influence the outcome of this match with decision-making in this key position, Koteka said. National 7s and 15s rep forward Robert Heather Jnr will spearhead the Cowboys campaign.
“Bring the family, tell the neighbours and see you all at the Arorangi Rugby Field from 11am for lots of rugby action this Saturday.”
Entry fee for adults is $3 and for children under-16, its free.
11am Town versus Country Juniors U9, U11 & U13s – Quick Rip, half field (Refs: Club Officials), 12m: U16 Rugby 15s (Refs: Ben Koteka, Assist. Ref: Roi & Clive); 1pm: U19 (Refs: Paul Allsworth, Assist. Ref: Roi & Clive); 2.15pm: Women’s – Quick Rip/Rugby 7s (Refs: Dawn Crummer, Assist. Ref: Club Officials); 2.45pm: Senior A Arorangi Cowboys-Takitumu (Refs: Peter Godfrey, Assist. Ref: William Taripo/Paul Allsworth); 4.15pm: Senior A Avatiu-Nikao Eels-Tupapa Panthers (Refs: Teokotai Tuaivi Jnr, Assist. Ref: Sean Willis/Kora Kora. Sub Bench: Paul Peryroux/Tua Ngaputa)