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Panthers looking to edge out Eels

Saturday 25 June 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Rugby Union, Sports

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Panthers looking to edge out Eels
Avatiu Nikao Eels’ Joshua Koroi dives over for the team’s first try against Tupapa Panthers at the swamp. Picture: RASHNEEL KUMAR/22060615

Tupapa Panthers are looking to turn around their form in today’s match against Avatiu Nikao Eels at home in the Senior A Rugby championship.

The reigning champions have had a torrid time of late, losing 18-19 to the Aorangi Bears last weekend, and will also be looking to not repeat the mistakes that resulted them losing to Avatiu 3-17 in the first round of the competition.

Tupapa coach Darren Piri said he expected it to be “another good old-fashioned tussle”, with both sides having plenty to prove.

Piri said his side rued the fact this season they had made too many mistakes at crucial points of each match so far this season.

“We need to be finishing off our plays and working on ball retention,” Piri said.

“But we also have to work on what we know we’re good at.”

Piri said his side had been “a bit unlucky” at times during last weekend’s match, but also acknowledged that Aorangi “really came out to play”.

“It’s about doing the basics right. We’ve got to hold on defensively. We’ve also got to play smart rugby.”

Cook Islands Rugby Union Rugby Development Manager Ben Koteka said it was a crucial match for both sides.

“Avatiu know that they’re good enough to beat Tupapa if everything goes right for them, while Tupapa are still reigning champions and have enough experience to see them through,” Koteka said.

“It should be an entertaining contest.”

The match takes place at Tupapa field at 4pm today (subs: Saturday). The curtain raiser will feature the Ngatangiia and Arorangi U-19 sides, and will kick off at 2.30pm.