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Eels to battle Panthers in top of the table clash

Saturday 20 March 2021 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in League, Sports

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Eels to battle Panthers in top of the table clash
Tupapa Panthers’ Jeremy Campbell breaks away from Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles defenders at Nukupure Park on Saturday. The Panthers smashed the Sea Eagles 84-8. Photo: LOSIRENE LACANIVALU

Undefeated Avatiu Nikao Eels and Tupapa Panthers will meet today in a top of the table clash at The Swamp.

The premier men’s clash in round five of the Raro Cars Rugby League Competition is expected to be a tense affair.

Both teams have defeated the other clubs competing in the weekly 13s competition – they include defending champions Ngatangiia-Matavera Sea Eagles, Arorangi Bears and Aitutaki Sharks.

Eels coach/player Clive Nicholas said they are bracing for a tough challenge from the former champions.

“We have been waiting for this game and as the coach/player I want to see where our boys stand. We all know what Tupapa has got to offer, they got a good coach (Darren Piri) and I have a lot of respect for him, having played under him and alongside him.”

The Eels have received a major boost ahead of today’s clash. Former Titikaveka Bulldogs players Longo Leuta and Teariki Matenga Jr will make their debut for the Eels against the Panthers today.

“We have lost about five of our young players the likes of Genesis Piri, Arona Ngari Jr, Adyn Kapi and one of our young player KC Kora broke his hand during training so it’s a big setback,” Nicholas said.

“We are pleased to have the services of Longo and Teariki, they will surely add the experience we need in the team.”

Panthers coach Darren Piri said the rivalry between the two teams “is one not to be missed”.

“We have to come up with a different game plan against Avatiu in order to overcome them. It’s an important match and we have to work hard as a team to come away with the win.”

Fixtures

11.45pm U10/U12 Eels-Panthers, 12.30pm U14 Eels-Panthers, 1.30pm U19

Eels-Panthers, 3pm Reserves Eels-Panthers, 4.30pm Premier Eels-Panthers. NOTE: Sea Eagles reserves have confirmed they no longer have a reserve grade for the season. Sea Eagles prem’s on bye. Bears reserves on bye. Sea Eagles/Bears U19s on BYE (to equal up draw in U19s). Note: Sea Eagles/Bears Jnr Development on bye (as per request by Sea Eagles and confirmation from Bears).