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Panthers and Eels reign supreme

Monday 25 March 2024 | Written by Solomone Taukei | Published in League, Sports


Panthers and Eels reign supreme
Avatiu Nikao Eels defeated Arorangi Bears 38-18 at Aretere Park on Saturday. Solomone Taukei/24032425

Round two of the Cook Islands Rugby League Rarotonga 13s competition started with a big bang as the Tupapa Panthers found their redemption against the Titikaveka Bulldogs on Friday at Aretere Park.

It was a tough battle, but the Bulldogs couldn’t keep up with the Panthers’ pace. Panthers coach Darren Piri had emphasised the importance of sticking to their game plan.

“We need to focus on our own game plans and not play the game the way the opponents do it,” he said. This strategy paid off, wiping away the bitter taste of their previous loss in round 1. Scores were 52-12 in favour of the Panthers.

Bulldogs coach Mark Tuaati and his team will now take time to rethink and plan for their next games.

On Saturday, the men’s premiership game was a thriller as the Clive Nicholas-coached Avatiu Nikao Eels faced the reigning champions, the Arorangi Bears at Aretere Park.

After their loss against the Ngatangiia Sea Eagles, the Eels regrouped and strategised.

In a game filled with physicality, the Eels showed their determination by going for tries early on. With the support of their home crowd, the Eels secured a victory with a 38-18 score at full time.

Nicholas shared his thoughts, saying, “The whole two weeks of training was based on our loss back in Ngatangiia against the Sea Eagles. We have worked on every single mistake we made, and today I’m sure we were ready.”

Confident in their preparation, Nicholas guided his team to a marvellous victory, leaving the Bears with wounds to heal as they entered a new week of preparations.

Bears coach Bobby Hansen expressed his concern, stating, “I’ve always been wary of playing against teams coming out of byes, and two weeks in a row we have encountered that against the Panthers last week and the Eels this week.”

“It’s hard to play against teams which are refreshed and have so much physical and mental preparation. Well, someone’s gotta play them regardless.”

The Bears’ focus now is to win their next set of games to secure a top position.

In the women’s game between the Lady Panthers and the Lady Bulldogs, both teams put up an enjoyable and entertaining match. It was a close contest with multiple tries from both sides until the final minute. However, the Lady Panthers managed to sneak past the Bulldogs’ defenders and clinch the game with an extra two points. The final score was 22-20 to the Panthers.

In the under-16 grade, the battle between the Tupapa Panthers and the Arorangi Bears saw a clinical performance from the Junior Panthers. Despite the Bears’ efforts, they couldn’t break the Panthers’ defences, leading to a 20-6 loss for the Bears. The Panthers were declared the winners.

The under-14 grade game followed a similar pattern, with the Panthers dominating from the start. They maintained consistent intensity throughout the game, resulting in a 26-10 victory in favour of the Panthers.