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Tuesday 27 March 2012 | Published in Regional


There was plenty of art and heart at the Aitutaki Sharks rugby league home match last week, with most of the island turning out to watch their boys play.

A crowd estimated to have numbered about 800 people cheered on the Sharks as they played the Tupapa Panthers at Vaipae field on Friday afternoon.

With the rest of the island virtually closed for the game, it seemed to onlookers that there was no one left beyond the field.

The commentator put a tongue in cheek guess that the crowd was about 200,000 people strong based on the noise surrounding him, Aitutaki mayor John Baxter said.

The colourful crowd was letting the Sharks know they’re well and truly behind them with the custom designed banners giving support to the local boys and poking fun at the visiting crew.

“It all shows how much the Aitutaki people are behind the Sharks,” Baxter said.

“We want to say thanks to Tupapa for coming up and hats off to the Sharks for their effort.”

The Sharks scored five tries to the Panthers’ six during the game – not enough to win the match in its own right and definitely not enough considering the conversions weren’t coming for the Sharks, too.

Despite the 38-22 loss, Baxter said the crowd was given an entertaining match and is now looking forward to the next one scheduled for Vaipae.