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Panthers coach downplays impressive win

Tuesday 21 March 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Local, Rugby league, Sports

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Panthers coach downplays impressive win
Tupapa Panthers defeated Avatiu Nikao Eels 34-12 at Victoria Park in Tupapa on Saturday. 23031917

Tupapa Panthers remain humble and focussed on what’s ahead following a blistering performance in Rarotonga on the weekend.

They ended Avatiu Nikao Eels’ unbeaten run in the Cook Islands Rugby League 13s competition on Saturday after a superb 34-12 win at Victoria Park.

Panthers coach Darren Piri said his guys had improved from previous weeks.

“There were times we didn’t follow what we needed to do, getting into the little things, it’s an achievement, but it’s still early days; we still have three more games in rounds before playoffs.

“That’s where it really counts as to who will turn up and play.”

While downplaying their achievement, Piri acknowledged the Panthers displayed strength all over the field.

“Our forwards created a platform to go forward and with the flanks following their lead.

“We still need to work on fitness and defence.

“A few areas of the game could have been better.”

The match played under heavy conditions following a torrential rain in the opening half saw the home side race away with a healthy 20-6 lead at the break.

Buoyed by their home support, the Panthers came hard and fast early and were aggressive in defence.

Their quick play from the dummy half and quick hands in the backs caught the Eels napping in the opening quarter of the match.

The Eels settled late in the opening half and started to look dangerous but the massive rain took a toll on the players, testing their skills and commitment.

In the second spell, players fought tooth and nail while adjusting to the slippery conditions.

However, ill-discipline started creeping in from both teams resulting in sin bins.

The Panthers extended their lead while the Eels managed to score their second try as the host held on to win 34-12.

Piri said they are not going to speculate as they prepare to meet the Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles this coming Saturday. 

“You can’t really speculate on feelings, otherwise you will put your team off.

“It’s always been a hard fought battle between the Panthers and Eels, all these years it’s always been like that, and it’s good for the game.”

He thanked all the supporters who turned up to the game.