Crunch time for top sides

Saturday September 22, 2018 Written by Published in Rugby Union
A Takuvaine Reds’ win over Avatiu Nikao Eels would mean a new champion in the Rarotonga Club 15s competition. 18092128 A Takuvaine Reds’ win over Avatiu Nikao Eels would mean a new champion in the Rarotonga Club 15s competition. 18092128

It’s do-or-die for the top-four teams in the Rarotonga Club 15s semifinals today.

 

Tupapa Panthers, Takuvaine Reds, defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels and Arorangi Cowboys will be putting their bodies on the line to make it through to the showdown next week.

The Panthers will host the Cowboys at Victoria Park while Reds will take on the Eels at the Happy Valley Field.

While both matches will be interesting, it’s the Reds versus the Eels clash that is expected to be more exciting.

The Vase Samania-coached Reds won their last encounter against the Eels by 17-15 and are slightly favoured in today’s mouthwatering battle.

“The Reds defensive steel and composure coming to the fore that day,” said Cook Islands Rugby development manager Ben Koteka.

The Eels, who are the 2016 and 2017 champions, have had a mixed season but last week’s win against competition leader’s Panthers will give them a bit of confidence heading into today’s clash.

The Clive Nicholas-coached side came from behind to beat the Panthers 22-20 and finish third after the preliminary competition.

“They do have the potential to win the championship however they have not consistently played as a team – unlike last week,” Koteka said.

The Reds will be relying on Viiga Ruepena, the multi-skilled utility back whose vision and goal kicking boots have saved the team on many occasions this season and John Penu, their try scoring machine and one of the quickest men on the island.

The Eels will be spearheaded by their own speedster Samu Alafua alongside hardworking number eight Tokerau Raru, who will set the tone for his team, with their exciting counter-attacking fullback Tevita Niusama sure to keep the opposition defense guessing.

Panthers will head into the other semis highly favoured against the Cowboys. These two teams have met twice this season with the Panthers winning both matches 24-15 and 48-20.

In their last meeting, the Cowboys were in the match until the last quarter when the Panthers hit overdrive and finished stronger with a 48-20 win.

The semis will start at 4pm.

 

Fixtures

Tupapa Field – 11am: Junior’s Programme – All Club’s Under 9 and Under 11 – All Clubs (Refs: Club Officials), 12pm: Under 13 – All Club’s (Refs: Club Officials), 1pm: Under 16 – All Club’s (Refs: Ben Koteka, Assist Refs: Club Officials), 4pm Senior A: Tupapa Panthers-Arorangi Cowboys - The Bond Store Game of the Week (Refs: Tua Ngaputa, Assist Refs: Arthur Emile/Dawn Crummer, Bench Assistance: Ben Koteka);  Takuvaine Field – 4pm Senior A Grade: Takuvaine Reds-Avatiu Nikao Eels (Refs: Teokotai Tuaivi Billy Junior, Assist Refs: Abel Masters/Paul Peyroux, Bench Assistance: Simiona Teiotu).

 

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