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Underdog Sharks could have a chance

Thursday 22 March 2012 | Published in Regional

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Two senior rugby league matches will be held on Friday afternoon this week, leaving Saturday with just one senior’s match scheduled for the round.

Table-topping Tupapa Panthers will travel to Aitutaki this week to play the Sharks at their home ground on Friday afternoon.

The Sharks are coming into the match as underdogs, currently sitting second off the bottom of the ladder with six points to their name, but will be looking to leverage a few peculiarities to add to their chances.

First, the Sharks were given a rest week last round when their opponents failed to appear at a scheduled match.

The week off means the players should be in better shape than their opponents. It may also give the Sharks a mental boost as the players look to prove themselves in front of a home crowd which was left disappointed with the lack of action last week.

Second, the Panthers experienced a slump in their performance last week during their 10-all draw with the second-placed Avatiu Eels.

A repeat performance this week could give the Sharks a chance to run away with the game.

Third, travelling such distances for a game of rugby will undoubtedly have an effect on the Panthers.

If it is not for the home crowd advantage, the Sharks will also be lining up against a team that is playing outside its regular routine. It may be enough to unsettle the Panthers.

All will be known from 5pm tomorrow, when the Sharks put the Panthers to the test.

In Friday’s other match, the Takuvaine Warriors will play the Titikaveka Bulldogs at the Happy Valley grounds in Takuvaine.

The Warriors are still searching for their first win in the season, but will be facing a tough Bulldogs outfit who are keen to make up for a loss against Ngatangiia last week.

The premier sides will be kicking off at 5.15pm for that match.

The Warriors and Bulldogs reserves and under 19s sides, though, will be meeting on Thursday afternoon also at the Happy Valley grounds.

The under 19s will kick-off at 4pm and the reserves at 5pm.

- Eric Parnis

This week’s draw

Thursday, March 22 at Happy Valley Stadium – Takuvaine Warriors v Titikaveka Bulldogs. 4pm – under 19s, refs: P. Mitchell assisted by M. Une and P. Ngaroi. 5pm – reserves, refs: T. Manea assisted by M. Une and S. Willis.

Friday, March 23 at Happy Valley Stadium – Takuvaine Warriors v Titikaveka Bulldogs. 4.15pm – under 16, refs: T. Benioni assisted by J. Murraya and P. Ngaroi. 5.15pm – premiers, refs: M. Une assisted by S. Teiotu and A. Emile. Bench official: J. Brown.

Friday, March 23 at Vaipae field – Aitutaki Sharks v Tupapa Panthers. 5pm – premiers, refs: S. Willis assisted by T. Manea and A. Tanga. Bench official: P. Strickland.

Saturday, March 24 at Nukupure Park – Ngatangiia Sea Eagles v Tupapa Panthers. 1pm – under 13s, refs: R. Mato assisted by club officials. 2pm – under 16s, refs: P. Mitchell assisted by P. Strickland and R. Mato. 3pm – reserves, refs: T. Benioni assisted by P. Mitchell and P. Strickland.

Saturday, March 24 at Raemaru Park - Arorangi Bears v Avatiu Eels. 1pm – under 13s, refs: J. Hosking assisted by M. Raina and A. Nickolas. 2pm – under 19s, refs: T. Manuel assisted by A. Nickolas and M. Raina. 3.30pm – reserves, refs: T. Manea assisted by M. Une and J. Hosking. 5pm – premiers, refs: A. Emile assisted by S. Willis and T. Tuakana. Bench officials: J. Brown and T. George.