Saturday 25 February 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Rugby league, Sports
Rugby league fans will be treated to a whole day of footy at Nukupure Park in Muri.
Starting at 9am with junior development, the venue will host two premier matches with defending champions Tupapa Panthers taking on arch-rivals Arorangi Bears at 3.30pm followed by the hosts Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles battling Avatiu Nikao Eels at 5pm.
The Panthers after a disappointing start (8-38 loss to the Eels) bounced back last week to beat the Sea Eagles 30-12 at home. The Bears also started their season with a win against Titikaveka Bulldogs at Raemaru Park on Friday last week.
Both teams will be gunning for a win in their bid to lead the competition.
The Sea Eagles will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways against the highly favoured Eels in the second premier clash.
Coach Ngatamaine Rongo said after a win (against Bulldogs 20-10) and last week’s loss, the players were looking forward to their third match.
“We are still learning, we are still putting things together and our main goal is executing our game plan, that’s the key,” Rongo said.
“I think Tupapa and Avatiu have set the benchmark and I told the boys we don’t have to worry about how they play, we just need to focus on our game.”
Despite the loss last week, Rongo said the attendance at the training sessions this week have been positive.
“There was a really good response from the boys and a good turnout at training. They are all looking forward to this match.”
Eels coach Clive Nicholas said their players became “too relaxed” following a week break.
However he said they had a good turnout at training this week.
“This is just the start of the season and I had a hard time trying to keep everyone committed especially with a week break but we can’t force the players as they have work and family commitments to attend to,” Nicholas said.
“But this week was overwhelming with the numbers we got at the training.”
Nicholas said the team had been boosted by the return of utility back Tangi Akava who provided extra cover and depth in the backline.
“The confidence level is very high at the club but this is still early days, anything can happen and we are taking each week as it comes.
“We will carry on what we are trying to achieve, working on bits and pieces and especially basic stuff.”
Nicholas also hailed Cook Islands Rugby League and competition coordinator Franky Toa for introducing the double header format.
“It’s a no brainer, the vibe will definitely be there with two premier matches at one venue and we are looking forward to a great day of footy.”
Nukupure Park - 9am Junior Development, 11am U14 Sea Eagles-Eels, 12pm U14 Panthers-Bears, 1pm U16 Panthers-Eels, 2pm U19 Eels-Bears, 3.30pm Premier Panthers-Bears, 5pm Premier Sea Eagles-Eels