In a reprise of last year’s 15-a-side final, Tupapa beat the Avatiu Eels 35-22.
Game management by the Panthers was the order of the day as they went about their job to dismantle the Eels forward pack with a dominant scrum and lineout effort, said Ben Koteka from Cook Islands Rugby.
The Panthers were well-directed by their halves; quick-passing halfback Jason Potoru with good decision-making by first 5/8 Viiga Ruepena.
In the 60th minute of play the Panthers had run up an extraordinary 30-3 lead, before the Eels finally settled down.
Avatiu was belatedly able to build pressure and score three tries late in the match – but by then it was too late.
The best players for the Eels were their young forwards, Aden Kapi, Genesis Piri and Arona Ngari Jnr.
The winning team, the star performers were their hard-working forward pack and the halves combination of Potoru and Ruepena, who kept things moving in the right direction for the Panthers.
Tupapa tries: Silafi Tovio (2), Thomas Toa, Matamanea Andrew Matapakia, Jovilisi Naqitawa and Junior Buresova. Pen: Fereti Iona. Conv: Viiga Ruepena (2)
Avatiu tries: Joshua Caffery, Tovari Kenake and Toru Katuke. Pen: Kelepi Komaisavou. Conv: Kelepi Komaisovau (2)