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‘Hunger for win’ drives Eels to league victory

Tuesday 14 February 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in League, Sports


‘Hunger for win’ drives Eels to league victory
Avatiu Nikao Eels’ Viiga Ruepena gets tackled by Tupapa Panthers in the clash on Saturday. The Eels won 38-8. MELINA ETCHES/23021350

Avatiu Nikao Eels were ‘more hungry’ for win against defending champions Tupapa Panthers in the opening round of the Cook Islands Rugby League domestic 13s season over the weekend.

The Eels defeated the Panthers 38-8 in the match held at The Swamp in Avatiu on Saturday.

Coach Clive Nicholas said: “We were fitter and more hungry team. All young boys stepped up like seasoned players and our seniors once again led by example.”

Nicholas said the first half was scrappy, adding everything fell into place in second half.

“An 80-minute player of the day performance by Adyn Kapi and work horse Shark Henry and also tackling machine Josh Motu kept Tupapa out of firing their plays. The boys were just too good (on Saturday).”

The Eels who won the League Nines in Paradise tournament last month proved elusive and scored most of their tries from broken play. They also defended well to deny the Panthers a couple of tries in a tit for tat battle.

The Panthers tried hard but were unable to stamp their mark in the match.

In lead up to the match, Panthers coach Darren Piri told Cook Islands News that they have been missing a couple of players from last season.

“The boys have been turning up, they started training about two weeks ago, losing all that Christmas feeding,” Piri said on Friday.

“We have been working on stamina, we are looking at how much our forwards can be leading from the front, and at the same time, working on our defensive line. It’s going to be fiery, both teams will work hard to dominate up front, and there will be challenging moments out wide.”

Meanwhile in the opening match of the season held on Friday at Teimurimotia Park, Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles defeated Titikaveka Bulldogs 20-10.

Bulldogs coach Meti Noovao said they have to start from the scratch, adding they were looking forward to their upcoming matches.

Meanwhile the rest of the grades will kick-off this week as clubs were last week trying to sort out numbers, Cook Islands Rugby League earlier said.

Cook Islands Rugby League president Charles Carlson said: “There is also a big focus on junior development this year with the aim of developing the game from the U8s to U12s.”

“We need to get back to teaching our children the game basics. We have had four sessions so far, and already a massive improvement in their skills and knowledge of the game.”

Cook Islands Rugby League is also targeting junior coaches to be part of the programme “so they know what is expected of these players and they progress through the grades”.