A thriller is on the cards

Saturday September 29, 2018 Written by Published in Rugby Union

Back from the dead, Takuvaine Reds will leave no stone unturned in their bid to spring a major surprise by winning the Rarotonga Club 15s title today.


In the grand finale at The Swamp in Avatiu, the Reds will take on Tupapa Panthers in what is expected to be a fiery battle between the neighbours.

These two teams have met twice this year. Panthers won the first match 30-18 while Reds squared the ledger, winning the second match 19-13.

Cook Islands Rugby Union development manager Ben Koteka said at the start of the season, the Panthers were everyone’s favourites racking up some impressive score lines in the opening round of the competition.

“Their open attack from anywhere style of rugby proved exciting to watch,” Koteka said.

However the Darren Piri-coached team’s performance dipped a bit in round two where they lost twice against the Reds and defending champions Avatiu Nikao Eels 20-22 Eels. 

Koteka said complacency was not helping their cause.  

“On the other side – the Reds did start the season slowly and over the past month the Reds have been the big improvers of this competition, winning all the tight matches against top ranked opposition; 19-13 against the Panthers, 17-15 against the Eels and then last week’s semi-final win against the Eels (16-10).

“The Reds have a simple but effective game plan to play for territory (and points) supported by solid defence and also composure under pressure – their recipe for success in 2018 so far.”

Both teams possess lethal backlines but Koteka said whoever wins the battle of the forwards would walk away with the title.

“At scrum time consistently, the Panthers forwards are one of the best on the island and they do possess a decent lineout although they are one of the most heavily penalised teams in the contact area.

“The Reds forwards may struggle at scrum time however their strength will be in general play especially in the contact area – their mobility and cohesion making up for their scrummaging shortfall.”

The final controlled by referee Teokotai Tuaivi will kick off at 4pm. The day will start with the junior development programme at 11am for the under-9s, U11s and U16s.   


Tupapa Panthers (starting lineup still to be confirmed): Davey Mato, John Vano, Tupou Faireka, Kana Nga, Ngatamaine Rongo, Tom Weeks, Oki Naea, Thomas Toa(Captain), Othneil Joseph, Jamain Iroa, Jovilisi Naqitawa, Seru Ralulu, Tua Ravula, Kave Mocedike, Rangi Piri, Lua Tua, Colati Ravula, Akariva Tuwalu, Teina Savage, Quinton Wainiqolo, Pita Senibiakula.

Takuvaine Reds (starting lineup still to be confirmed): Murare John, Stormel Ruatoe, Vaike Potoru, Travel Tou, Patrick Ngaroi, Kena Vaimohou, Tautua Solomona, Tuku Samuel, Jeff Magele, Viiga Ruepena, Fale Sooialo, Logan Perenise, Josh Koroi(Captain), Afato Ioane, John Penu, Salvatory Ngaroi, Kura Tereapii, Ailoa Samania.

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