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Monday 12 April 2010 | Published in Regional


The Ngatangiia village partied like their team had won the league grand final at the weekend after their Ngatangiia-Matavera Sea Eagles caused the upset of the season beating 2009 champions the Tupapa Panthers 13-12.

The Ngatangiia field was packed with league fans to watch the main match of the weekend with Tupapa supporters probably feeling their team were going to have an easy win over the Sea Eagles.

But they were sorely disappointed when the Sea Eagles scored a dropped goal in the dying seconds of the game to break the deadlock.

The game was far from perfect with handling errors plaguing both sides and causing the match to be a stop-start event with the referee’s whistle dominating proceedings.

Tupapa posted the first points of the game through the hardworking Turori Matutu to put the Panthers in to an early 4-0 lead.

But the Sea Eagles piled on the pressure and forced the Panthers to make errors and eventually their efforts were rewarded through a penalty shot at goal which Sea Eagles kicker Pakia Willie was not going to miss.

The side won another penalty to even up the scores 4-4.

In fact, the boot ruled the game with Ngatangiia errors giving the Panthers two penalty shots at goal which they converted into points to give them an 8-4 lead at half time.

The second half of the match was scrappy with Tupapa captain Alan Tuara binned for a high tackle, giving the Sea Eagles another penalty to pull back the Panthers lead 8-6.

Another Panthers’ player was also binned and another penalty goal was converted into points by the Sea Eagles to lock the scores up at 8-8.

Tupapa then pulled themselves together resulting in a great team try to return to the lead 12-8.

But the Sea Eagles were not to be outdone, answering Tupapa’s try with one of their own to once again lock the scores up 12-12.

With the clocking ticking down Panthers and Sea Eagles fans were on the edge of their seats willing their team to keep a hold of the ball.

On the attack Tupapa looked like they would break the tie and take the win as they launched an assault on the Sea Eagles’ line.

But a bad pass was intercepted by one of the Sea Eagles’ flying Fijians who stormed down the field towards his try line.

But he was clipped around the legs and tackled just 10 metres short of the line.

With ball in hand, Ngatangiia’s Meti Noovao took a moment to decide what to do before booting the ball over the goal right on the hooter to give Ngatangiia the win, albeit by one point and sending supporters running onto the field.

It was a well deserved win for the host who will face the Avatiu Eels in their catch-up match this week.

The wounded Panthers will face the Aitutaki Sharks for their cyclone catch-up match.

More photos, page 12