Defending champions Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles have jumped into second place after a tough win in round five of Raro Cars Rugby League competition.
The side defeated Tupapa Panthers 16-12 in a tough and intense encounter at Nukupure Park on Saturday.
The match was initially supposed to be held at Victoria Park but wet weather forced organisers to move the clash to Muri.
Kitted in their new gear, the sharp-looking Panthers went straight into attack, testing the Sea Eagles defence with some strong drives led by their Fijian attackers.
But the Sea Eagles had better ideas: they stayed composed under pressure and forced errors from their opponent when on attack to gain advantage in the match.
The home side Sea Eagles scored three brilliant tries in the opening spell to lead 14-0 at the break. The team looked polished in their attack, while the Panthers created numerous scoring opportunities but lacked the finishing touch.
As expected, the Panthers came much better organised in the second spell and managed to pull one back before the Sea Eagles extended their lead to 16-4 through a penalty.
The Darren Piri-coached Panthers fought tooth and nail in the remaining half and managed to score two more tries but loss of two players to sinbin cost them the match. The Sea Eagles won 16-12.
The Panthers lacked discipline and they were penalised for the infringements they caused in the match although some calls made against them could be questionable.
The side also has some new additions to their backline and they need time before finding their feet in the competition.
Titikaveka Bulldogs forfeited the other premier match against Avatiu Eels. The side lacked players to field a team. The Bulldogs were fined $200 and match points.
The Eels remains on top on the points table without a loss from their four matches so far followed by the Sea Eagles in second and Panthers slipping to the third spot.
Sea Eagles 16 (Tries – Kele Navunilagi, Mathew Sakai, Shaiquan Terekia; Penalty – Daniel Toa – 2)
Panthers 12 (Tries – Jovilisi Naqitawa, Benjamin Tearii, Okirua Naea)