More Top Stories

Rugby Union

Bigger and busier 2023: PM

31 December 2022

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

Eels, Panthers in final

Monday 31 July 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Rugby Union, Sports


Eels, Panthers in final
Avatiu Nikao Eels player tries to go past Arorangi Bears defenders at Victoria Park in Tupapa on Saturday. The Eels won 34-7. MELINA ETCHES/23073001

Arch-rivals and neighbours Avatiu Nikao Eels and Tupapa Panthers will feature in the Rarotonga Club 15s final this Saturday after beating Arorangi Bears and Titikaveka Bulls in the semifinals over the weekend.

Defending champions Eels cemented their place in this week’s grand final with a comprehensive 34-7 win against the Bears at Victoria Park in Tupapa on Saturday.

With their physically bigger forward pack, the Bears were very direct in their approach and they tried hard but unfortunately, they were unable to convert the opportunities into points.

Some of the Eels tries being scored against the run of play via turnover ball or counterattacks by their speedy, instinctive backs – which was discouraging for the opposition efforts.

Best players for the Bears were utility player (mid field or loose forward) Robert Heather, busy lock Suli Kolilo, number 8 Andrew Purua and hard running centre Logan Perenise.

Although the Eels forwards stepped up it was their classy backs who were the difference – led by their half’s combination of James Nand and Viiga Reupena, fleet footed right winger John Penu and inside centre Tama Nicholas, who scored a brace of tries.  

The Eels led at halftime by 13-0.

In the opening semifinal on Friday, the Panthers overcame the Bulls 30–13.

The 30 to 13 scoreline does not give justice to the Bulls fight, as they kept the Panthers honest throughout this match.

The Bulls scoring two brilliant tries to mercurial first 5/8 Costa Boe, his first try just before the halftime break, a solo 50 metre outside break with a chip and chase finish.

It was the power of the Panthers set piece scrum and lineout that laid the foundation for this win, with the majority of their tries being initiated and scored by their forwards.

The top players for the Bulls were Boe, midfielder Mark Tuaati, live wire prop Kena Taumalolo, and their non-nonsense number 8 Alex Connal.  

Best players for the Panthers were their young loose head prop Olive Willie, midfielders Rudi Sifa and Savenaca ‘Juju’ Buresova and fullback Jamian Iroa.   

The Panthers led at halftime by 15–8.

  • CIRU


Avatiu Eels 34 (Tries: Tama Nicholas [2], John Penu, Viiga Ruepena & Nathan Nabou. Conv: Tom Daniel [3]. Pen: T Daniel) Arorangi Bears: 7 (Try: Robert Heather. Conv: Taio Taio).

Tupapa Panthers: 30 (Tries: Lua Tua, Jone Baikeibavu, Rudi Sifa, Alistair Newbigging & Eric Newbigging. Conv & Pen: Jamian Iroa) Titikaveka Bulls: 13 (Tries: Costas Boe [2]. Pen: Timothy Tangirere)