The Bears defeated Avatiu Eels 10-0 in the final on Saturday to finish the two-day tournament held at the BCI Stadium in Nikao, undefeated.
In the preliminary round, the Bears defeated Eels 16-14 before a 6-all draw with last year’s champions Tupapa Panthers. In their other matches, the side defeated Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles 14-4, Aitutaki Sharks 14-8 and Titikaveka Bulldogs 30-12.
After finishing the preliminary competition on top, Bears took on the Bulldogs in the opening semi-final, and won the match 28-16.
In the other semis, Eels coached by Albert Nicholas overcame Darren Piri’s Panthers 14-12 in a close and tough battle.
In the showdown, the Bears who comprised mostly young players kept the rampaging Eels at bay with their solid defending.
Guided by the likes of senior players Stephen Willis and Oswell Tunupopo, the Bears made use of the opportunities they created to score two tries. The 10-0 score line was enough for the Bears to win the Nines title for the first time since the tournament started in 2016.
Team skipper James Strickland said it was a team effort and he hailed his players for fighting until the end.
Strickland said the win was a major boost to the team ahead of the 13s season which is expected to start at the end of next month.
“The boys really stepped up and it’s good to finally get the win. We have been trying to win the Nines since it started and we finally got it. I guess hard work pays off,” Strickland said.
“Few of the boys who played in the Nines will be going back to where they have come from but hopefully we will have a decent team to compete in the upcoming season.
“I would like to thank all our supporters who came to support us, if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have come this far in the tournament.”
The former champions Panthers finished on third place after beating Bulldogs 22-14.
The Aitutaki Sharks finished the tournament in fifth after defeating the Ngatangiia-Matavera Sea Eagles 22-20 in the place play-off. The Sea Eagles who claimed the 13s title last year finished the tournament without a win.
In the women’s competition, Town defeated Country twice in a three match series to win the title.
In the opening match on Friday, the Moari Allsworth-led Town defeated Country 20-8 before winning again 14-12 on Saturday. In the final match, the Patricia Taea-led Country won 14-4.
Day one – Tupapa Panthers 14 defeated Aitutaki Sharks 0, Avatiu Eels 14 lost to Arorangi Bears 16, Ngatangiia – Matavera Sea Eagles 12 lost to Titikaveka Bulldogs 34, Tupapa Panthers 6 drew with Arorangi Bears 6, Aitutaki Sharks 14 lost to Titikaveka Bulldogs 26, Avatiu Eels 24 defeated Ngatangiia – Matavera Sea Eagles 8, Tupapa Panthers 22 defeated Titikaveka Bulldogs 14, Arorangi Bears 14 defeated Ngatangiia – Matavera Sea Eagles 4, Aitutaki Sharks 20 lost to Avatiu Eels 28. Day two – Tupapa Panthers 40 defeated Ngatangiia – Matavera Sea Eagles 0, Avatiu Eels 20 defeated Titikaveka Bulldogs 0
Aitutaki Sharks 8 lost to Arorangi Bears 14, Tupapa Panthers 8 lost to Avatiu Eels 20, Ngatangiia – Matavera Sea Eagles 18 defeated Aitutaki Sharks 14
Titikaveka Bulldogs 12 lost to 30 Arorangi Bears. Fifth Place Play-Off:
Aitutaki Sharks 22 defeated Ngatangiia – Matavera Sea Eagles 20. Semi Finals:
Arorangi Bears 28 defeated Titikaveka Bulldogs 16, Avatiu Eels 14 defeated Tupapa Panthers 12. Third Place Play-Off: Tupapa Panthers 22 defeated Titikaveka Bulldogs 14. Final: Arorangi Bears 10 defeated Avatiu Eels 0. Women’s Series – Town 20 defeated Country 8, Town 14 defeated Country 12
Country 14 defeated Town 4.