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Panthers lead tight race, Eels face Sea Eagles in crucial match

Saturday 20 April 2024 | Written by Solomone Taukei | Published in League, Rugby league, Sports

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Panthers lead tight race, Eels face Sea Eagles in crucial match
Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles defeated the previously unbeaten Avatiu Nikao Eels 22-18 at Nukupure Park last month. SOLOMONE TAUKEI /24031010

As the Cook Islands Rugby League season draws to a close, teams are racing to the top four of the points table. Each team has only one game left, and the premiership race is becoming increasingly competitive in these last rounds.

At present, the men’s premiership is a close race, with the Tupapa Panthers leading by a single point ahead of the Avatiu Nikao Eels.

The Panthers who completed their preliminary matches last week have amassed 11 points from five wins and a draw. The Eels have 10 points from five wins.

The Clive Nicholas-coached Eels face off against the Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles this afternoon at Nukupure Park in Muri.

They lost to the Sea Eagles in round one and will need to win this afternoon to retain the Round Cup title.

“Our goal is to secure the top spot before going into play-offs next week, which is why we are doing our best to get to the top of the points table,” Nicholas said.

“We have the chance to try and keep the Round Cup we won last year but obviously the Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles are standing in our way.”

Nicholas stressed that the upcoming match was an opportunity that they needed to exploit; otherwise, the Panthers would “obviously” win the Round Cup title for finishing on top of the table after preliminary rounds of matches.

He also emphasised that his team wanted to stay ahead of the game because they had playoffs coming up.

Though the preparation had some highs and lows, Nicholas sounded confident that his team was ready and determined to give their all and make the community proud.

Meanwhile defending champions Arorangi Bears played Titikaveka Bulldogs last night. Heading into the match, the Bears were placed fourth with six points – one point behind the Sea Eagles – while the Bulldogs had two points.

Fixtures

Today – 12pm Junior Development, 2.15pm U14: Panthers vs Sea Eagles, 3.15pm U16: Panthers vs Sea Eagles, 4.30 pm Premiers: Eels vs Sea Eagles.