New champion to be crowned

Monday September 24, 2018 Written by Published in Rugby Union

A new winner will be crowned in the Rarotonga Club 15s competition this weekend after defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels were dumped in the semifinal on Saturday.

 

The Eels lost to Takuvaine Reds 10-16 at the Happy Valley Field.

The Reds will now face Tupapa Panthers who overcame Arorangi Cowboys 25-18 in the other semi.

The Vase Samania-coached Reds got off to a flying start, leading 13-0 after 15 minutes – thanks to a try by number eight Geoff Mangele and a penalty followed by a booming drop goal kicked by mercurial first five eighth Viiga Ruepena.

The bullet start by the host left the visitors stunned and backpedaling as they tried to make a comeback in the match. However they took some powerful strides and their relentless effort was paid off with a five-pointer.

The Reds led 13-5 at the break.

The Eels managed another try, but it proved too late as a three-pointer from the Reds was enough to put them through to this Saturday’s showdown with a 16-10 win.

For the Eels, number eight Tokerau Raru, powerful midfielders Leki Vahafoou and Lai Rogorogoivalu and fullback Tevita Niusama stood out.

Ruepena, who guided the Reds around the field, was their star player alongside lock Patrick Ngaroi and hardworking flanker Tautua Solomona.

In the other semi played at Victoria Park, the much favoured Panthers had a close 25-18 win against the Cowboys. Cowboys led at halftime by 12–6. All the Cowboys points came through the penalties.

The Cowboys were competitive throughout but at times lacked the patience to build pressure to score tries that would have been just reward for their efforts, said Cook Islands Rugby Union development manager Ben Koteka.

“As the game wore on the Panthers tight five started to dominate at scrum time especially,” he said.

“The young Cowboys team can be proud of their overall efforts to stay in the fight and if they continue to learn they do have the potential to be a serious threat in future.”

For the Cowboys, inspirational loose forward Robert Heather Jr, busy young lock Tanire Mokoroa, strong running midfielder Andre Iro and goal kicking first five eighth Leo Roa were impressive.

The top performers for the Panthers were prop Davey Mato, left winger Jovilisi Naqitawa, elusive centre Tua Ravula and fullback Rangi Piri.

Results

Takuvaine Reds: 16 (Try: Geoff Mangele. Conv: Viiga Ruepena. Pen: V Ruepena (2) Pot: V Ruepena) Avatiu Eels: 10 (Tries: Tevita Niusama and Stanley Tobia)

Tupapa Panthers: 25 (Tries: Jovilisi Naqitawa (2) and Rangi Piri. Conv:  Othneil Joseph and Jamian Iroa. Pen: Othneil Joseph (2) Arorangi Cowboys: 18 Pen: Leo Roa (6)

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