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Warriors topple reigning champions, Nukz Power retain women’s crown

Wednesday 3 April 2024 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Sports, Touch Rugby


Warriors topple reigning champions, Nukz Power retain women’s crown
Champions Team Warriors defeated GAT in the Cook Islands Touch open men’s final on Monday. CI Touch/24022729

A new champion was crowned in the Cook Islands Touch Association men’s competition while Nukz Power retained the women’s title at the finals on Monday.

After four years of coming close to victory, Team Warriors finally triumphed in the domestic men’s Touch competition, pipping defending champions GAT in a pulsating final.

In an intense showdown, GAT and Team Warriors battled tooth and nail for the title at the National Stadium in Nikao.

The match was officiated by referees Chris Mana, Bruno Ina Tou and Koa Kopu.

GAT was led by the likes of standouts Puna Hiro, Oscar Wichman, Nia Remuera and Maka Maui. For the Warriors, Vou Williams, Andy Kapi, Maeva Mateariki and Stuart Toleafoa took charge, putting on a superb performance.

According to Julz Westrupp, president of Cook Islands Touch, both teams played well.

“Discipline played a part from time to time but both teams got on to play hard,” Westrupp said.

In a tit for tat battle, both teams were locked at 6-all at the end of normal time, forcing the match into a drop off play to decide the winner.

Starting with four men each, both teams had a fair share of possession and close scoring opportunities, but the speed of Mateariki proved the difference as he scored in the dying stages of the extra time playoff to give the Warriors a 7-6 win.

“Game played well by both teams. Congratulations Team Warriors,” Westrupp commented.

In the women’s final, firm favourites Nukz Power took on the Bounty Hunters.

Nukz Power retained the open women’s title overcoming Bounty Hunters 5-3. CI Touch/ 24040201

Nukz Power got off to a rocky start with back-to-back defensive lapses and were unable to get out of their own red zone. They were punished for this as the Hunters scored first to take the lead. 

Mother-daughter duo Julz Westrupp and Tashi Kopu went to tap off, completing the set of six touches with a dummy cut from Kopu to level the match 1-all.

The Bounty Hunters displayed some great moves, especially from Mere Atatoa-Carr and Monica Wichman in the middle, where they complemented each other well.

For Nukz Power, the return of Rima Browne, who had been away for a month overseas for work commitments, proved crucial as she was able to keep the team calm when it mattered.

Nukz Power held on to win 5-3 and successfully defend the title, finishing the competition unbeaten.

In the third-place playoff played before the finals, FBI took on NIKz in the women’s division while Team KAPs battled Nukz Power in the men’s.

FBI started with only four players but scored first to keep the game interesting. The team was led by Paeru Ngaroi, Hinnah Tatuava, Kura Moekaa and Saline Bates. They started off showing skill, determination and hunger.

But Team NIKz, led by the determined Nicole Tiaore and Edith Nicholas, led by example, guiding their team to a slender 8-7 win to finish third in the competition.

In the men’s division, Team KAPs took on Nukz Power, who were yet to win a game this season.

Nukz Power came with numbers and fire, making a statement that they were there for business.

“Pozo Ngaroi for Team KAPs showed experience, calmness and wit, setting up tries for his team,” Westrupp said. “But young Stanley Tutai was able to do the same for his Nukz Power team. Also, from Nukz Power, Vernon Horn and Tuffy Tuakana played well on the 7m line.”

Nukz Power ended their season on a high, winning their first match of the season 6-4 to take home the third-place title.

Westrupp thanked major sponsor Vodafone Cook Islands, game lead Jason Lindsay and the referees for their support.

The mixed competition, with two more round of games to go, will continue this afternoon at the National Stadium.

Mother-daughter duo Julz Westrupp and Tashi Kopu featured for the Nukz Power. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/24040115


Male young gun - Tana Raina, Female young gun - Esther Ioane; Male top try scorer - Vou Williams (16 tries), Female top try scorer - Nicole Tiaore (18 tries);

1st men – Warriors, 1st women - Nukz Power; 2nd men – GAT, 2nd women - Bounty Hunters; 3rd men - Nukz Power, 3rd women – NIKz.


Mixed:  5pm Field 1 Outlaws vs Nukz Power, 5.30pm 007 vs KAPs; 6pm  JAWs vs CISNOC. Bye - Huffin & Puffin (due to joining season late). Note - Huffin & Puffin will have the double banger next week.  Last round game.