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Panthers win, Bears lead

Monday February 11, 2019 Written by Published in League
Tupapa Panthers player Jovilisi Naqitawa tackled by Feleti Iona of Avatiu Eels. Panthers won 26-14. Pictures from the Bulldogs versus Sea Eagles match on pages 8 and 9. 19021038 Tupapa Panthers player Jovilisi Naqitawa tackled by Feleti Iona of Avatiu Eels. Panthers won 26-14. Pictures from the Bulldogs versus Sea Eagles match on pages 8 and 9. 19021038

Defending champions Tupapa Panthers made a winning start but it was the Arorangi Bears who stole the limelight in round one of the domestic rugby league competition over the weekend.

The Bears thumped Takuvaine Warriors 68-0 at the Happy Valley Field on Saturday to take the lead on the points table.

The team ran riot against a hapless Warriors who had no answer to the visitors’ dominant display in the opening round of the weekly competition.

The Warriors fielded a weak team with many inexperienced players who were unable to keep the rampaging Bears at bay.

While the Bears made a perfect start, reigning champions Panthers ensured they kicked off their title defence campaign on a high after beating Avatiu Nikao Eels 26-14 at The Swamp.

The match of the round lived up to expectations with an intensive outing from both sides.

There were lapses of uncoordinated play which is expected in the opening rounds of the competition.

The Eels scored the opening try but were unable to head into the break with a lead after the Panthers bounced back to level terms.

In the second spell, the Darren Piri-coached Panthers scored successive tries from their speedy backline players who exploited the Eels’ defensive flaws, working beautifully along the flanks, to take the lead.

The home side tried to come back after conceding two quick tries but were unable to break the stubborn Panthers defence line.

In the reserves clash, the Panthers also defeated the Eels 28-26 in a close tussle.

“It was a wet contest in The Swamp for both teams (premier and reserves), and both games were very close and exciting to watch! But we pulled through, and the teamwork was beautiful to watch,” said the Panthers on their official Facebook page.

“Well done to our boys and coaches, and thank you to our supporters for being awesome as always. Lastly a big meitaki maata to our brothers from Avatiu for hosting us.”

In the other premier clash played under soggy conditions at Teimurimotia Park, Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles defeated Titikaveka Bulldogs 32-16.