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Bears stun defending champs Panthers

Monday 20 June 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Sports


Bears stun defending champs Panthers
An Arorangi Bears player clears the ball against defending champions Tupapa Panthers. The Bears won the match 19-18. Picture: MELINA ETCHES/22061915

Arorangi Bears reigned supreme in round three Rarotonga Club 15s clash beating defending champions Tupapa Panthers over the weekend.

In a very close contest, the Bears were able to chase down the Panthers and eventually win this match by 19-18 at Victoria Park in Tupapa.

Although the Bears dominated territory and possession, it was the Panthers who led on the scoreboard for the majority of this match.

Cook Islands Rugby Union’s Ben Koteka said: “Surprisingly one of the Panthers biggest problems was their ill-discipline, with four players being yellow carded and one player red carded late in the second half of this match.”

The Panthers ill-discipline allowed the Bears to keep chipping away at their scoreboard lead to eventually overtake them in 76th minute of play with a rolling-maul try to the Bears loose forward Penitito Lio. 

“This was another strong performance by the Bears forward pack who together with their depth from the reserves bench allowed them to pressure the 2021 champions late in the second half and eventually win this match by 19-18,” Koteka said.

For the Panthers their strong-running right wing Sio Naqitawa, forwards Kana Nga and John Vano and utility back Junior Buresova stood out in the match.

Loose forwards Leni Seu and Penitito Lio, big prop Daniel “Magic” Tonorio and their goal-kicking first 5/8 Daniel Toa were the top performers for the Bears.

The Panthers led at halftime by 8-5.

In the under-19 played before the Senior A clash, Avatiu Eels thumped Ngatangiia Sea Eagles 26-0.

Koteka said a good 18-0 halftime Eels lead allowed them to comfortably win this match against a spirited Sea Eagles team.

“The Sea Eagles were unfortunate not to register some points just before halftime – when they actually crossed the try line, however this decision was later over-ruled by the match officials after it was judged that they mistakenly had 16-men on the field of play after a substitution mix-up.”

In the second half, the Sea Eagles fought valiantly without reward.

Best players for the Sea Eagles were their exciting fullback Francis Terepo, hardworking loose forwards Adam Terepo and Amani Ama and their skillful first 5/8 Apu Kamana.

For the Eels, forwards Johan Herrmann and Tupui Herrmann-Tuaivi and the big-kicking left-footed first 5/8 Aaron Simpson stood out.


U19 Avatiu Eels: 26 (Tries: Aporo Johnson (2) & Edwin Tauia. Conv: Jordan Peraua. Pen: J Peraua (2) & Aaaron Simpson) U19 Ngatangiia Sea Eagles: 0.

Senior A:  Arorangi Bears: 19 (Tries: Tubuna Nasilivata & Penitito Lio. Pen: Daniel Toa (3)) Tupapa Panthers: 18 (Tries: Jovilisi “Sio” Naqitawa & Savenaca “Junior” Buresova. Conv: Afereti Anau. Pen: A Anau (2))