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Unpredictable Panthers focused

Thursday 26 May 2011 | Published in Regional


Unpredictable is what the Tupapa Panthers premier rugby league grade will be this Saturday when they face long time rivals the Avatiu Eels in the 2011 premier league grand finals.

The only game that matters is the grand finals is the key theme that has been drilled into the Panthers by captain Allan Tuara who has lead the team into the grand finals for the past four years.

Tuara admits that the Panthers have had a rough road to the grand finals but the fact that theyve overcome tough challenges over the seasons has made the Panthers pack a solid one.

We lost a number of our top players during the season for sevens rugby commitments and this affected our team in one way or another, says Tuara.

In fact the Panthers have had a real mixed season with results including losses to lower ranked sides and thrashings to teams ranked above the Panthers.

But its like Ive always said to the boys only finals games count and when I talk about finals I mean knockout, semis and the grand final.

A classic example of the unpredictability of the Panthers was their outstanding semi final game at the weekend against the second ranked Ngatangiia Sea Eagles who were thrashed 36-0.

The Panthers were without a doubt the underdogs in the match after having had somewhat of a lacklustre season.

It was a game that stunned the Sea Eagles and their fans as the Panthers showed renewed vigour and an impenetrable defence.

Tuara reveals that before the game the team held a bonding session where each player laid their issues on the table a move that helped bring the spark to the Panthers pack.

And as captain I had to motivate our players, especially the younger ones.

Looking ahead to this Saturdays grand finals Tuara says that the team that wants the championship more will win on the day.

And how badly do the Panthers want to win the champions?

That badly thats how much, says Tuara.

Expect a solid and no mercy defence from the Panthers who were back to back premier league champions in 2008 and 2009.

Look out for Allan Tuara to lead from the front backed up by coach/player Darren Piri, Pae Papai, Alex Kermode, Tai Joseph out on the wing, Noel Emile, Eddie Tamarua, Teina Savage, Conrad Piri, Kane Epati, Ngametua Ioane, Teariki Tou, Lua-lua Tua, Lui Moemai, Alfred Manu, Turori Matutu, Anthony Aioluko, Andy Tautu, Ben Tautu and Nadave Tereapii.

Tuara would like the whole of Pantherland to head to the BCI Stadium this Saturday and paint the back bank of the stadium grounds black.

We are just going to go out there and do our thing and we want our supporters to come out and paint the grass bank black.