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Undefeated Eels wary of Bulldogs

Friday 1 March 2024 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Rugby league, Sports


Undefeated Eels wary of Bulldogs
Avatiu Nikao Eels defeated Tupapa Panthers 38-22 at Raemaru Park last Saturday. The Eels will take on the Titikaveka Bulldogs at Teimurimotia Park this afternoon. LOSIRENE LACANOVALU/24022984

The undefeated Avatiu Nikao Eels are wary of the Titikaveka Bulldogs when the two premier men’s sides clash this afternoon at Teimurimotia Park.

The Clive Nicholas-coached Eels are on a high with two big wins against defending champions Arorangi Bears 30-8 and Tupapa Panthers 38-22 in their first two matches of the 2024 Cook Islands Rugby League 13s competition.

But this afternoon they face an unpredictable Bulldogs who shocked the league fraternity with an upset win over the Panthers after going down to Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles in week one.

The Bulldogs were on a bye last week and they are expected to return full of confidence in the week four clash at their home ground.

Nicholas said they were excited to play at Teimurimotia Park, “as it has been a long time we have played there”.

“We are surely wary of the Bulldogs,” Nicholas said. “They have a good forward pack, and the return of Longo (Leuta) and Teariki (Matenga), their playmaker, has strengthened their backline and defence. Against Tupapa, they were a different side.”

“And with these guys back in the fold and leading the Bulldogs, we expect a strong competition from them.”

Nicholas is also wary of Bulldogs veteran Eli Bendini who made the difference coming off the bench against the Panthers.

“As funny as it sounds, I have put a challenge to my players not to let Papa Eli run. We have seen the damage he can do if he’s given room, and he can totally change the game.

“It just takes one guy to change the whole game and it also takes one guy to destroy it all.”

Speaking about the latter, Nicholas said he was not happy with the attitude some of his players showed during and after the win against the Panthers last week at Raemaru Park in Arorangi.

“We have just won two games, we are acting like we have won the grand final,” the no-nonsense coach said.

“Last season we started well, winning all the matches with good margins, but towards the business end of the competition as I started to take the foot off the pedal and give the players a bit more freedom, what happened? We couldn’t even perform.

“That was my biggest mistake ever.”

Nicholas said he had a strong pep talk to his players about their attitude and wanted them to stay humble and keep working hard throughout the season.

He said they can’t get complacent with their early wins and need to keep improving to realise their main goal of winning the premiership.

“We fight too much with the referees, with the rule and the association, and we get too confident at times. We need to remain humble,” Nicholas said.

The Bulldogs versus the Eels match kicks off at 5 pm.


Today at Teimurimotia Park - 5pm Premier Men Titikaveka Bulldogs-Avatiu Nikao Eels;

Tomorrow at Teimurimotia Park - 1.45pm Under-14 Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles-Tupapa Panthers; 2.45pm U16 Arorangi Bears-Tupapa Panthers, 4pm Women Lady Bulldogs-Lady Panthers; 5pm Premier Men Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles-Tupapa Panthers.