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Monday 22 March 2010 | Published in Regional


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The Avatiu Eels premier league team had their supporters on the edge of their seats as they defended attacks after attacks from the Arorangi Bears to edge out and win the match 20-15.

The match, played at the Avatiu ground, attracted a huge crowd of Eels and Bears supporters providing a ‘grand finals’ atmosphere at the Swamp.

Both sides were on-form with little errors seen in their game, but it was the Eels defence that won them the game.

The Eels were first across the line through winger Duane Gukisuva before the Bears hit back with their winger Johnny George dotting down to bring the scores to 4-all.

A brief moment of frustration saw the Eels’ pivotal player Bobby Hansen sin-binned but that didn’t prevent the Eels scoring a try in his absence.

The try, possibly the best of the day, came via a cheeky up and over into the corner.

Bruce Goldsworthy shot off after the ball without a Bear in sight to retrieve it.

He was confronted by the Bears’ Mamanu Emile but he managed to punch the ball back into the path of supporting Eels player, Mathew Pierre, who bolted to the try line.

In fact the inside-outside combination of Pierre and Goldsworthy was poetry in motion as the pair worked together like a well-oiled machine.

The try gave the Eels a slim 8-4 lead before the half time break.

Duane Gukisuva again scored the first try of the half, thanks to the slick hands of the Eels who moved the ball down the line with lightning speed. This created an overlap in the Bears’ defence and a hole for Gukisuva to punch through and score the try and take the Eels further in the lead 12-4.

The Eels looked like they were slipping back into their bad habits when they were penalised on a number of occasions, allowing the Bears to walk towards their try and organise an attack.

The Bears made sure they took advantage of Eels errors and with ball in hand – Eddie Teraitua crashed over the line to score a try right in front of the Bears supporters who were elated with the action finally coming to their end of the park.

And with the boot of David Wichman sending the ball over the posts – just two points 12-10 separated the Eels’ lead from the Bears.

But the slim lead was short lived as the Bears winger Johnny George crossed the line for the second time to give the Bears the lead 14-12.

As the sun set over the swamp, the clock ticked away and fans in both camps were on the edge of their seats.

The Bears set up camp in the Eels territory and launched a massive attack.

But the Eels defence held strong forcing the Bears’ David Wichman to kick a field goal to extend their lead by another point 15-12.

Then Lui Nicholas stepped up and put his body on the line – the try line that is, as he dragged a mob of Bears defenders across the try line to return the Eels to the lead and with the conversion finally finding the centre of the sticks – the Eels were up 18-15.

A royal wave by Nicholas certainly didn’t impress the Bears but it sure did frustrate them and with that frustration came a penalty in favour of the Eels who wasted no time adding the extra two points.

With a converted try in it, the Bears drove the Eels right back until they had them pinned on their try line.

But attack after attack was met by Eels brawn and when the Bears couldn’t find a try at the end of their set – the hooter sounded the end of the game much to the relief of the Eels supporters.