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Eels rue missed opportunities

Tuesday 25 July 2023 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Rugby Union, Sports


Eels rue missed opportunities
Tupapa Panthers forward Olive Willie powers through Avatiu Nikao Eels defenders at Nukupure Park in Ngatangiia on Saturday. The Panthers won 20-19. MELINA ETCHES/23072310

The 20-19 loss to Tupapa Panthers in the nailbiting Rarotonga Club 15s round three clash on Saturday has served defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels with some key lessons, says their coach.

The Eels were down 0-20 when they finally found their rhythm in the remaining 12 minutes of play at Nukupure Park in Ngatangiia.

Within a seven-minute period, the Clive Nicholas-coached Eels scored 19 unanswered points with three tries and two conversions and had a chance to win the game when they squandered a kickable 35 metre penalty goal at the hooter.

Nicholas rued a number of missed opportunities saying his players “left it too late”.

“We were just not taking our chances and took wrong options, that was it, that’s what let us down,” he said.

“The boys wanted to feel Tupapa and they kept waiting for their chance rather than chasing the opportunities like Tupapa did.

“We scored more tries than them but Tupapa took every opportunity that came their way, they took penalties from anywhere in the field, every corner and from any distance. That was the difference.”

When the Eels got the opportunity especially three pointers and conversions, they were unable to convert them.

Nicholas said the Panthers also punished them for their indiscipline after his side conceded numerous penalties.

“I think Tupapa gave away one penalty for offside but we gave away about five penalties for the same offence.

“We took some wrong decisions in the first half and we left it too late in the second half.”

Despite the loss Nicholas remained upbeat of their chances as the side prepares to take on Arorangi Bears in the knockouts this weekend.

“There were some key lessons learnt and we will take them onboard heading into the do or die match against Arorangi. Nobody wants to play Arorangi especially when it comes to do or die match and we are preparing for one hard match this Saturday.”

Tupapa Panthers assistant coach Thomas Toa was relieved that his side managed to escape the Eels in the dying stages of the match and come away with the slender win.

Toa said some crucial changes to his forwards in the final quarter of the match allowed the Eels to strike back.

“I had to make those changes because there were some injuries and that allowed them to make a comeback in the game,” he said.

“We shouldn’t have allowed them to score in the first place because that try gave them the momentum they needed.

“My message to the players was to retain possession and avoid mistakes. Both teams made mistakes in the last quarter of the match and we both had some kicking opportunities that we didn’t take.”

The Panthers will play Titikaveka Bulldogs in the knockouts this Friday.


Tupapa Panthers: 20 (Tries: Lua Tua, Kana Nga & Rudi Sita   Conv: Jamien Iroa. Pen: Daniel Toa) Avatiu Eels: 19 (Tries: Lua Faafoi Faosi, Ryan Daniel & Tama Nicholas. Conv: Viiga Ruepena [2])

Titikaveka Bulldogs: 16 (Tries:  Rakon Marsters & Bambridge Valoa. Pen: Timothy Tangirere [2]) Arorangi Bears: 16 (Tries: Suli Koliloa & Nelson Ngaiorae. Pen: Basil Matapo [2]). This week’s matches will be played at Victoria Park in Tupapa.