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A try to former Olympic sprinter, Patricia Taea, in the 95th minute of play has seen the Titikaveka Bulldogs claim the inaugural Cook Islands Women’s Rugby League Premiership.

The thrilling final at the National Stadium in Nikao was eventually won by the Bulldogs 22 – 16, however the Tupapa Panthers had their opportunities to win the match, leading their opponents 16 – 12 heading into the final ten minutes of regulation time.

After scores were levelled, both teams played off for another fifteen minutes until the 100m London and Rio representative for the Cook Islands, Patricia Taeo, scored the winner and ensured the Bulldogs finished their 2021 campaign undefeated.

Despite being gutted by the close loss, Tupapa Panthers captain, Maruia Willie, congratulated Bulldogs for their winning performance after the match.

“It was evident we went into the final with one goal and the hunger for win but unfortunately we missed out. I think we gave Bulldogs a good run and put on a grand final performance,” Willie said.

“But there has to be only one winner in the end and they deserve it. I’m proud of my team.

“The end of this season is only the beginning of the next season for us. We have set the bar this season, we want to continue to progress and raise the bar next year.”

The inaugural Cook Islands Women’s Premiership featured three teams, with the Arorangi Bears joining the Panthers and Bulldogs in the competition.