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12 teams battle for Nines glory

Friday 5 January 2024 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in League, Sports

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12 teams battle for Nines glory
A Lady Bulldogs player pushes her way through the Lady Panthers defence in the Nines in Paradise final in 2022. Both teams will feature in this weekend’s tournament. 22011016

Twelve teams in three divisions men’s, women’s and under-18s are set to battle in the two-day Cook Islands Rugby League Nines in Paradise 2024 which kicks off this afternoon.

Five men’s and women’s teams each and two U18s will be battling for glory in the tournament to be held at the National Stadium in Nikao.

The men’s competition will feature defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels, Tupapa Panthers, Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles, Titikaveka Bulldogs and reigning 13s champions Arorangi Bears.

The women’s competition will see defending champions Lady Panthers, reigning 13s champs Lady Bears, Lady Bulldogs, Lady Eels and the visiting Raukawa Kukis from New Zealand competing.

In the U18 competition, the Panthers and Sea Eagles will battle for the title.

The Bulldogs struggled for numbers at their training during the festive weeks but reported a good turnout this week.

Bulldogs captain Timothy Tangirere said the team will be led by veteran Papa Eli, who is “almost 50”, and supported by the likes of Pacific Games bronze medallist Mark Tuaati and Fale Sooialo.

Tangirere said the Bulldogs have been struggling to mark their mark in the domestic competition and hoped they would be able to turn things around this year.

“I think we got a good mix of boys for the Nines. We got some experienced and old boys coming back to help us and I think they will make a good impact,” he told CIRL.

Lady Bulldogs, the former women’s champions, managed to have a full training yesterday after a good turnout of players at Teimurimotia Park.

Team player Natalia Short yesterday said: “First full training with more than five players so we’re pretty stoked that we can actually run some plays and just get the ball moving and make those connections in our team.”

“I think the women’s competition itself will make a statement but it’ll be good to see our girls pull away with the dub but otherwise (it’s about) putting league on the map and growing the game here.”

The tournament gets underway with the U18s match at 2pm. Entry fee is $5 for adults and gold coin donation for children.

Fixtures

Day one (Friday) – 2.00pm U18 Panthers-Sea Eagles, 2.25pm Women Lady Bears -Raukawa Kukis, 2.50pm Women Lady Bulldogs-Lady Eels, 3.15pm Men Eels-Sea Eagles, 3.40pm Men Bulldogs-Panthers, 4.05pm Women Lady Panthers-Raukawa Kukis, 4.30pm Women Lady Bears-Lady Bulldogs, 4.55pm Men Bears-Sea Eagles, 5.20pm Men Eels-Bulldogs, 5.45pm Women Lady Panthers-Lady Eels, 6.10pm Women Raukawa Kukis-Lady Bulldogs, 6.35pm Men Bears-Panthers, 7.00pm Men Sea Eagles-Bulldogs, 7.30pm End of Day One.

Day 2 (Saturday) – 1.00pm Women Lady Panthers-Lady Bears

1.25pm Women Lady Eels-Raukawa Kukis

1.50pm Men Bears-Eels, 2.15pm Men Panthers-Sea Eagles, 2.40pm U18 Panthers-Sea Eagles, 3.05pm Women Lady Panthers-Lady Bulldogs, 3.30pm Women Lady Eels-Lady Bears, 3.55pm Men Bears-Bulldogs, 4.20pm Men Panthers-Eels, 4.45pm U18 Panthers-Sea Eagles, Presentation (U18 Finals), 5.10pm Women 3rd Ranked-4th Ranked Presentation (3rd & 4th Final), 5.40pm Men 3rd Ranked-4th Ranked Presentation (3rd & 4th Final), 6.10pm Women 1st Ranked-2nd Ranked Presentation (1st & 2nd Final), 6.40pm Men 1st Ranked-2nd Ranked Presentation (1st & 2nd Finals), 7.15pm End of Day Two.