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Avatiu Eels, Arorangi Bears tussle for spot in final

Saturday 29 July 2023 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Regional, Rugby Union


Avatiu Eels, Arorangi Bears tussle for spot in final
Avatiu Nikao Eels backline in action against Tupapa Panthers in the Rarotonga Club 15s competition last week. The Eels will take on Arorangi Bears this afternoon for a place in the final against the Panthers next week. MELINA ETCHES/ 23072303

It is back to square one for defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels as they take on Arorangi Bears in the Rarotonga Club 15s semifinal this afternoon at Victoria Park in Tupapa.

The Eels who finished second after the preliminary round are anticipating a tough clash against the third placed Bears.

Despite winning in the round competition, Eels coach Clive Nicholas said the earlier rounds “count for nothing” when it comes to the semifinals.

“To put it simply, for us the rugby union season starts tomorrow (today),” Nicholas said.

“The pressure is on both teams to secure their spot in the final. It will be a tough one.”

The Bears who salvaged a draw against Titikaveka Bulls last week have most of their key players back.

Against the Bulls, Bears coach Tavake Karika said they struggled with numbers. They started the match with 13 players and had to rope in some of the Under-19 players to field a team.

“This week we have the full squad coming to training and a majority of them featured for the club in the league season. With the Bicentennial celebrations out of the way, the focus is now on this match,” Karika said.

“We have prepared well for this match and we’re aware of what Avatiu will bring to the field. We just have to maintain our discipline and play smart rugby.”

Nicholas said they were wary of the depth in the Bears’ squad, especially the players who guided the club to the historic rugby league win earlier in the year. “The core of their players from the league season are still there. They got the likes of Rob Heather, who is probably the top local player on the island, and experienced players like Steve (Stephen Willis) and Basil (Matapo). They are always tough,” Nicholas said.

The Eels will be counting on their first five eight Viiga Reupena to dictate play but Nicholas said the onus will be on other players to step up and support their mercurial No 10.

“Viiga is one man though and we need the rest of us to pull through, we need to put those little pieces together so he can function well. During the training this week he expressed that he needs the rest of us to pull our socks in order for him to function well.”

The Eels versus the Bears match will kick off at 4pm.

Tupapa Panthers beat Titikaveka Bulls 30-13 in the opening semifinal held last night.


Victoria Park:  11.55am Opening prayer All Clubs Junior Development Ethos: “Development first & competition later”, U13 GIRLS/U10 & U8 Boys – Quick Rip ALL Clubs (Junior Development Quick Rip non-contact, participation for all including Girls), U13 Boys – Rugby 15s ALL Clubs (Junior Development “Train & Play” - Rugby 15s); 2pm U19 Men

Avatiu Eels-Arorangi Bears; 3.30pm Women’s 10s Lady Bears-Lady Panthers/TKV Reds (2x 10 minutes); 4pm Premier Men – semifinal – Avatiu Eels (2nd) versus Arorangi Bears (3rd).