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Eels inspired after Nines win

Tuesday 10 January 2023 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Rugby league, Sports

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Eels inspired after Nines win
Avatiu Nikao Eels’ overseas-based player Maeva Robati against Tupapa Panthers in the League Nines in Paradise tournament semi-final on Saturday. The Eels won 23-15. 23010931

Avatiu Nikao Eels are pumped for the 2023 domestic 13s season following their win at the League Nines in Paradise tournament over the weekend.

The Clive Nicholas-coached Eels defeated Arorangi Bears I 8-6 in a closely contested final at the National Stadium in Nikao on Saturday.

The side defeated former champions Tupapa Panthers in a tit-for-tat semi-final 23-15 while the Bears overcame a resurgent Titikaveka Bulldogs 11-8, to make it into the showdown.

Both teams battled tooth and nail in the final with Eels’ Nathan Nabou giving his side a 4-0 lead in the opening half before Bears powerhouse Andre Iro crossed the line to give his side 6-4 lead at the break.

The second spell had both teams pushing for try but Eels through youngster Tamatoa Nicholas got the winning try in the dying stages of the match to win 8-6.

Coach Nicholas said he expected a better performance given they had been training since the Raro 7s tournament late last year.

“Not to be negative but myself and Albert (Nicholas), who overseas our trainings, expected more. We have been training since the 7s last year, the boys didn’t want a break. I suggested we go for a break and regroup after Christmas but they wanted to keep going.

“We trained for over a month and I never had any shortage of players at training and that’s why I expected us to be better.

“I think the boys were a bit overfit and overconfident and that made things harder for us but all in all, we are really happy to get the trophy.”

The Eels last won the title in 2017 and Nicholas said last weekend’s win will inspire the team to do better in the upcoming 13s competition.

“Like the rest of the clubs, about half of our team are overseas based players but to my understanding we still got a full team for the competition.”

Nicholas thanked the participating clubs and Cook Islands Rugby League especially association secretary Francis Toa for putting together the tournament.

“I want to thank my executives, our MP Albert Nicholas, Papa Bob, Aunty Tiare, Lucy and our supporters who came to support us.

“I also want to thank all the teams, I’m really happy to see Ngatangiia returning as well as Titikaveka, it just makes the competition better, and also Arorangi for fielding two teams and Tupapa who are always a threat.”

In the women’s competition, Lady Panthers were crowned the new champions after the side overcame Lady Bears 14-6 in the final. In the U18 competition, Tupapa Panthers finished on top in best of the three matches against Arorangi Bears.

The annual tournament which serves as the preseason opener for the domestic 13s season had 11 teams across three categories competing – six open men’s, three open women’s and two under-18 men’s sides.

Results

Women Panthers 4 Bears 4, Men - A Bears 2 0 Bulldogs 28, Men - B Bears 1 11 Sea Eagles 9, U18 Panthers 25 Bears 4, Women Bulldogs 8 Bears 0, Men - A Panthers 10 Bulldogs 15, Men - B Eels 18 Sea Eagles 10. U18 Panthers 19-0 Bears, Women Bulldogs 8-17 Panthers, Men – A Panthers 30-4 Bears 2, Men – B Eels 16-8 Bears 1, Women Bulldogs 10-12 Bears 2, Men Bulldogs 8-11 Bears 1, Men Panthers 15-23 Eels, Men Bears 2 14-13 Sea Eagles, U18 Panthers 13-17 Bears (U18 Presentation: Overall Best Of 3 Matches: Panthers), Women’s Final – Panthers 14-6 Bears, Men’s Third Place – Bulldogs 19-7 Panthers, Men’s Final – Bears 1 6-8 Eels.