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Lady Panthers take lead

Thursday 27 July 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Rugby Union, Sports


Lady Panthers take lead
Lady Panthers players congratulate each other after their 15-0 win over Lady Bears on Saturday. Picture: MELINA ETCHES/ 23072301

The three-match women’s rugby union 10s series in the Rarotonga Club 15s competition kicked off last Saturday with two teams battling for top honours.

Lady Panthers, combining with TKV players, and Lady Bears are taking part in the series which kicked off at Nukupure Park in Ngatangiia.

The Panthers made a strong start to their campaign beating the Bears 15-0 in game one. They led 5-0 at halftime with a try to their hard running forward June Willie.

In the second half, the Panthers scored two more tries to their speedy utility backs Soko Dikoinakua and Seta Batiratu to seal the win.   

Lady Panthers manager Julieanne (Julz) Westrupp said the girls are still struggling to transition to union after having over three months of rugby league.

“Union is a lot more technical when it comes to rulings and the girls also find this to be a weakness in understanding the game,” Westrupp said.

“We were lucky to come out victorious in last week’s game and only expect a harder game this week.”

Westrupp said the Lady Bears have some great players.

On Saturday the Arorangi side tried hard to remain in the contest with Stephanie Nooroa and Samantha Lockington leading the charge. However they were not able to execute their opportunities.

Westrupp said: “We commend them for also having new players like ourselves as well. At the end of the day, it’s all about women’s growth in the sport and to see new players is a bonus and win for women’s rugby in general.”

She said that both sides seemed to struggle with numbers.

“We managed one sub (substitute) last week after being able to join TKV to help boost our numbers.”

Cook Islands Rugby Union development manager Ben Koteka said most sporting federations preparing for the upcoming Pacific Games have put conditions in place that have resulted in many players pulling out of the rugby union competition.

“It’s still good to have two teams. It’s all part of development and building capacity,” Koteka said.
Westrupp paid tribute to their coaches.

“Our coaches (Koa Kopu, Ed Taraitua and Wallace Aroita) offer a huge range of talent, experience and knowledge that we are grateful for.

“I also understand young Willie Heather is assisting the Arorangi women.”

Westrupp said they were lucky to have all these gentlemen helping them.

“Without them, it would be tough. Bring on game two.”