Friday 10 February 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Rugby league, Sports
Both teams are hoping to stamp their mark in the domestic rugby league competition after struggling in the past seasons.
Former champions Sea Eagles have failed to find form in the premier grade while the Bulldogs relegated themselves to reserve grade after a poor start.
This season, the neighbours are hoping to turn their fortunes around and become the forces to be reckoned with – like during their glory years.
Both teams made an impressive start to the 2023 season at the League Nines in Paradise, especially the Bulldogs who finished third in the tournament held last month.
Bulldogs manager Apii Tumutoa said they returned to training about three weeks ago after the Nines tournament.
Tumutoa said they were anticipating an exciting start against arch-rivals Sea Eagles this afternoon.
“We want to bring the pride back into our village and bring the club back to glory days. We are hoping the village will come and support us tomorrow (today),” he said.
“The village rivalry is still there but we are looking forward to hosting our Takitumu brothers and its going to be a good game.”
The Bulldogs will have services of some experienced players who have returned to guide the young upcoming players.
Tumutoa said the performance of the team at the Nines brought some life back into the village and they were looking forward to continuing the momentum into the 13s competition.
“We need the village to rally behind the team and support us as united we stand, lets use rugby league to unite our people.”
Sea Eagles coach Ngatamaine Rongo said their preparations for the 2023 season started before the Nines tournament.
Rongo was pleased with the team’s performance at the Nines tournament.
“We will have pretty much the same team from the Nines. We have some good experienced players and also some young ones and we are looking forward to this match,” Rongo said.
“We won’t underestimate Titikaveka and we know it will be a tough match.
“We will use this match to see where we stand and what we need to work on moving forward.”
The Sea Eagles will be led by veteran Daniel Toa.
The Bulldogs versus the Sea Eagles match will kick off at 5pm.
In the feature match of round one to be played tomorrow at the Aeretere Park, home side Avatiu Nikao Eels will take on reigning champions Tupapa Panthers at 4pm.
The junior programme from 9am-11am will be held at Avatiu field this Saturday.
The rest of the grades will kick-off next week as clubs are still trying to sort out numbers.