Panthers on comeback trail

Wednesday 12 August 2009 | Published in Regional

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Saturday 8: Raemaru Park will play host to today’s round 9 main rugby match of the week between the Arorangi Cowboys and Tupapa.

2008 champions the Panthers have had probably their worst start in ages, losing their first five games of the season, but like any champion team with the return of the old-guard and by scoring bonus points (4 tries and losing within 7 pts) they have been able to slowly claw their way back into championship contention.

On the other hand the Cowboys have had the best win/loss average of all teams but they have been unable pick up any bonus points along the way.

Round 8 stage of the competition points table saw the Cowboys on 21 points and the Tupapa Panthers on 18 points.

So a win today will be crucial for either team as they look to stay in touch with the rest of the competition.

Ngatangiia-Matavera currently lead the A grade points table on 23 points.

Players who could determine the outcome of today’s match are Panthers’ crafty halves combination of Keeper Maurangi and Turori Matutu and also fleet-footed centre Andrew Iroa.

The Panthers will be hoping this trio remains injury free for the whole match.

For the Cowboys watch out for experienced first five-eighth David Wichman to play a pivotal role in the Cowboys game plans and if he brings his A game to the table, watch out for side stepping centre Spoon Marsters.

While all those named are from the backs, it is certain that whoever wins the battle up front will dictate proceedings. To date the Panthers’ most impressive forward has been young utility forward Tupou Faireka Jnr. The extra hours of CISA training are starting to pay off.

For the Cowboys their feared front row of Makirere Makirere, Shadow Tunui and David Heather supported by Apii Mamanu make a timely return.

See you all at Raemaru Park, Arorangi, where the Cowboys will play the Panthers. The first of the junior age grade matches (9-11yrs) kicks off at 12noon.

Other matches this weekend will see the neighbouring clubs clash – Takuvaine versus Avatiu at Takuvaine and Titikaveka against Ngatangiia/Matavera at Titikaveka. - Ruck and Maul