Avatiu Eels are hoping to bounce back from last week’s disappointing loss when they take on minnows Takitumu in round three of the Rarotonga Club 15s competition tomorrow.
The George Fatafehi-coached side went down fighting 16-19 to defending champions Tupapa Panthers in a close tussle last week.
The loss is still hurting the Eels but they are hoping to get over it with a dominant performance, both on the field and the scoreboard, against the winless Takitumu at Ngatangiia Field at 2.30pm.
However, Avatiu Rugby Club president Bim Tou-Kiriau says they can’t underestimate their opponents who are showing signs of improvement since their round loss to the Panthers.
Takitumu lost their opening match 0-60 before going down to Arorangi Cowboys 12-40 last Saturday.
“They can turn up on the day and anything can happen, so we are not underestimating any team in this competition. We saw in the first game, Takitumu had lot of young players and in the second match, some of their senior players turned up. We expect them to come out strong and give us the run for our money this weekend,” Tou-Kiriau said.
The Eels made a good start to their 2020 campaign after beating the tough Cowboys in round one.
Their much-anticipated clash against the Panthers, the side they lost to in the final last year, proved another hard battle.
Tou-Kiriau said some of their players were injured against the Panthers and missed the training session this week.
However, the side will be bolstered by the return of veteran Clive Nicholas who missed last week’s match due to a week suspension. Nicholas was involved in an onfield incident with Cowboys playerPenitito Lio, who has been suspended until he appears before the judicial committee.
Tou-Kiriau said: “We still have some injuries after that tough loss last week. We spoke about it after the game and we decided not to push those players carrying the injuries too hard.
“The match against the Panthers was a close and exciting one, the difference was just three points and could have been anyone’s match. We were unfortunate, but we have left that behind to focus on our upcoming matches.”
He said the team managed a training session on Tuesday. Yesterday’s session was cancelled due to a flooded field.
Meanwhile Tou-Kiriau is pleased with Cook Islands Rugby Union’s decision to hold both Senior A matches at a single venue.
“It really draws the crowd and creates a good atmosphere for everyone. We are looking forward to another week of rugby. It’s good that this week’s matches will be played at Ngatangiia Field which doesn’t get affected by flooding.”
In the other Senior A clash which is also the match of the week, unbeaten Panthers will take on the Cowboys at 4pm.
Ngatangiia Field – 11am: Juniors U9s, U11s & U13s – Quick Rip, half field
Refs: Club Officials; 12pm: U16 Rugby 10s Town-Country (Refs: Ben Koteka, Assist. Ref: Peni Lio/Roi Ioana); 12.40pm: U19 Town-Country (Refs: Paul Allsworth, Assist. Peni Lio/Roi Ioana); 2pm: Women’s – Quick Rip / Rugby 7s: Town-Country (Refs: Ben Koteka, Assist. Ref: Club Officials); 2.30pm: Senior A Takitumu-Avatiu/Nikao Eels (Refs: Peter Godfrey, Assist. Ref: Dawn Crummer/Ben Koteka); 4pm: Senior A Arorangi Cowboys-Tupapa Panthers (Refs: Teokotai Tuaivi Jnr, Assist. Ref: Tua Ngaputa/Paul Allsworth. Sub Bench: Paul Peryroux/Tua Ngaputa)