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Rugby honours on the line

Saturday 11 September 2010 | Published in Regional

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It’s knockout semi finals time and all the good work from the past 10 weeks goes on the line today as the top four A grade rugby teams line up this weekend in order to make next week’s grand finals.

In the 1st and 4th playoff at Avatiu – the Eels will face the ‘never say die’ Ngatangiia Dragons.

Home advantage will be crucial for the Eels as they look to stay on their winning ways after last week’s last minute victory against the Dragons.

The Dragons actually looked to be on track to pull off the surprise of the round with the scores locked at 16-all until the Eels (in classic Eels fashion) were able to score an unconverted try and win the match 21-16.

Players to watch for in the Dragons corner are ‘Mr Consistency’ Number 8 Willie Kauvai Jnr who has been in outstanding form all year but lacking in support.

Also look for Dragons boom centre Sailosi Niagi and the Toa brothers.

Potentially the Dragons have the fire power to upset so they will be hoping that lady luck and the bounce of the ball will come their way today.

Players to watch in the Eels pack will be their experienced duo in ex-national reps loose forward Teokotai Tuaivi Jnr and first five-eighthTerry Piri.

Their influence will determine the outcome of today’s match.

Meanwhile the battle between 3rd and 4th placed teams the Arorangi Cowboys and Titikaveka Bulls will be held at the Arorangi field.

After promising so much in the second round the Cowboys have struggled lately with their last 3 matches of the round.

With injuries, suspension and players travelling overseas the Cowboys understandably have not been the same since they demolished the Eels in round 6 by 34-7.

Last week, although it was an improved effort against the Bulls (the Cowboys winning by 23-17), the Cowboys know that at finals time they will have to lift to another level in order to be a serious contender for the 2010 title.

The Cowboys boast a rugged pack of forwards with a strong (but under-utilised) backline. One of the surprise packets of the competition, the Bulls (just like the Dragons) started the season on fire and have since failed to sustain that momentum in the second round.

The Bulls too have been a mixed bag in the later stages of the season but they will be buoyed by the return of first five Teariki ‘Tricky’ Tou.

His combination with halfback partner Tepou Taana will be crucial to the Bulls’ plans and on their day they have the potential to surprise – could that day be today?

So get on down to the Swamp or Raemaru Park and support your teams in today’s knock out semi finals. - Ruck and maul

Saturday 11 September at Avatiu (1st and 4th ranked teams) – 1.00pm Under 13 Tupapa vs Takuvaine, Ref-Vanya Tou assisted by Puru Samania and Paul Peyroux, 1.50pm Under 16 Avatiu-Nikao vs Titikaveka, Ref-Vaivase Samania assisted by Paul Peyroux and Bishop Bishop, 2.55pm Under 19 Tupapa vs Titikaveka, Ref-Simiona Teiotu assisted by Bishop Bishop and Tangi Toa, 4.10pm Senior A Avatiu-Nikao vs Ngatangiia, Ref-Pare Rongokea assisted by Simiona Teiotu and Ratu Mato

Saturday 11 September at Arorangi (3rd and 4th ranked teams) – 12.00pm Under 13 Arorangi vs Ngatangiia, Ref-Poso Ngaroi assisted by Ben Koteka and Dan Munro, 12.45pm Under 16 Arorangi vs Tupapa, Ref-Ratu Mato assisted by Dan Munro and Tua Manea, 1.50pm Under 19 Avatiu-Nikao vs Takuvaine, Ref-Ben Koteka assisted by Tai Ngari-Wichman and Arthur Emile, 3.05pm Senior B Arorangi vs Takuvaine, Ref-Tua Manea assisted by Tutai Taurarii and Sean Willis, 4.10pm Senior A Arorangi vs Titikaveka, Ref-Arthur Emile assisted by Fraser Nooroa and Sean Willis.