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Avatiu Eels and Lady Panthers emerge top contenders after R1

Tuesday 14 March 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Rugby league, Sports


Avatiu Eels and Lady Panthers emerge top contenders after R1
A Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles fan reacts as Sea Eagles players try to control possession against Arorangi Bears at Raemaru Park on Saturday. The Bears won 32-12. 23031340

Avatiu Nikao Eels and Lady Panthers have emerged top bets after round one of the Cook Islands Rugby League 13s competition.

The Eels in the premier men’s and Lady Panthers in the women’s division are unbeaten after round one competition which concluded over the weekend.

The Clive Nicholas-coached Eels made a superb start thumping defending champions Tupapa Panthers 38-8 in week one before walloping Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles 64-0 and overcoming Arorangi Bears 34-12.

On Friday, the side smashed Titikaveka Bulldogs 84-0 to finish round one unbeaten with eight points.

The Panthers with three wins and a loss are placed second with six points followed by the Bears with four points after two wins.

In the women’s division, Lady Panthers made a brilliant start with a smashing 38-8 win against defending champions Lady Bulldogs in week one. The side then defeated Lady Bears 8-6 and Lady Eels 18-10.

With three wins from three matches, Lady Panthers lead the points table with six points followed by the Bears and Eels with two points each.

Lady Panthers manager Harriet Tuara said: “Round one for us was about learning and setting foundations for our team.”

“We have had plenty of new players come through this season and also some key former players leave. So it was important for us to establish ourselves as a team, assess where we were at in terms of skills and capabilities and adjust to these changes in order to put our best foot forward each game.

“Building a healthy and thriving team culture was also a major priority for us and ensuring each of our women and girls felt they were learning and enjoying the experience altogether.”

Tuara said she thought they were lucky to have the first three games of the round because it meant working under pressure and a lot of what they wanted to achieve was fast tracked.

“We are also lucky to have come away with an unbeaten streak, it surely wasn’t an easy feat for our side especially playing three consecutive matches. But it’s a bonus we are happy to take. It also means we have to work harder in the next round if we want to maintain our position on the table.”

Lady Panthers are expecting a harder competition come round two now that all teams have had game time, says Tuara.

“We are also conscious that match time will increase by additional 20 minutes so it will be another good tester for us and we just have to prepare to stick it through to the final whistle. We have yet to execute our game plan so this is the time to do it and make sure we produce some quality rugby league.”

In the under-19 division, the Bears are leading with four points followed by the Eels also with four points but lose out on points difference.

The Panthers lead U16 division with four wins over the Eels.

In U14, the Eels are top placed with six points from three wins and a loss followed by the Sea Eagles also with six points from three wins and a loss. The Panthers are placed third followed by the Bears.

The round two competition will kick off this Friday.


Prems – Eels 84 Bulldogs 0, Women’s – Bulldogs 6 Bears 36, Prems – Bears 32 Sea Eagles 12, U19 Bears 32 Panthers 12, U16 Eels       12 Panthers 32, U14 Eels 40 Panthers 10, U14 Bears 30 Sea Eagles 34.