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Speedy Panthers break Bears back

Monday 17 July 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Rugby Union, Sports


Speedy Panthers break Bears back
A Titikaveka Bulldogs player tries to squeeze past Avatiu Nikao Eels defenders in their 8-35 loss last week. The Bulldogs will take on Arorangi Bears at 4.30pm today. Photo: LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 23071719

The speedy Panthers broke Arorangi Bears back as they won 12-11 at the Rarotonga Club 15’s Competition on Saturday.

In the closely fought match the Arorangi Bears got off to a flying start with the right winger Douglas Matabikau showing a clean pair of heels to score in the 4th minute.

Together with a penalty goal the Bears led at halftime by 8 to 5 with the host’s crowd sensing a possible upset on the cards at Raemaru Park in Arorangi.

However, in the 75th minute of play and with the Bears leading by 11 points to 5 [Panthers] and hot on attack, it was the breakout long-distance chip kick and re-gather converted try by the speedy Panthers left winger Jone Baikeibuku that broke the Bears back.  

With the conversion the Panthers led by 12 – 11 and that is how this match finished.  

Ben Koteka, Cook Islands Rugby Union Development Manager said the Bears will be ruing the fact that they missed 4 kickable kicks at goal by their normally reliable kickers – one of these penalty kick opportunities was in the 78th minute of play.

Best players for the Bears were loose forwards Robert Heather and Andrew Purua and big mobile prop Daniel Tonorio.

Best players for the Panthers were experienced forwards Eric Newbigging / Selafi Tovio who were able to lead some of their younger players; props Mara Adamu and Olive Willie and loose forward Alistair Newbigging throughout this match.

TUPAPA Panthers tries: Fiumoni Laitiavuka and Jone Baikeibuku    Conv: Daniel Toa

Arorangi Bears: try: Douglas Matabikau     Pen: Basil Matapo [2]

At Friday's match Avatiu Eels defeated Titikaveka Bulldogs 35-8.

However, Koteka said the final Eels 35 to 8 Bulldogs score line does not reflect the closeness of this match.

In the first half the Bulldogs were in with a chance – however they were unable to finish off some of their try scoring opportunities.

The Eels led at halftime by 7 to 3.

However, in the 2nd half against the run of play, the Eels were able to luckily capitalise on some vital turnovers and run in two long-distance tries to their speedsters Nathan Nabou and Tama Nicholas – this severely affecting the Bulldogs efforts and spirit, Koteka said.

Best players for the Bulldogs were front rowers Kena Vaomotu and Ewan Iro, lock Ray Marsters and also first 5/8 Costa Boe – who was the lynch pin of their attack.

Koteka said it was great to see the younger ex-U19 players Eels players of midfielder Tama Nicholas, fullback Ryan Daniel and winger Nathan Nabou players receiving more game time, featuring on the scoreboard and showing some good touches in general play too.

Avatiu Eels: Tries: John Penu [2], Nathan Nabou, Tama Nicholas & Adyn Kapi.   Conv: Ryan Daniel [5]

Titkaveka Bulldogs:Try: Kena Vaomotu   Pen: Costa Boe .