News,RLN Premiership Otangarei Knights RLC Nominated for NZRL Grassroots Club of the Year

Otangarei Knights RLC Nominated for NZRL Grassroots Club of the Year

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The NZRL Awards Night was a cracking event, riding on the wave of winning the Four Nations in 2014.  With Simon Mannering winning the Kiwis player of the Year, from a prestigious list that included Shaun Johnson and Jesse Bromwich.  Northlanders were excited to see their very own Otangarei Knights named as finalists in the Grassroots Club of the Year, who were just pipped to the post by the Hornby Panthers, who were named as the winners. (Click here to view the full list of finalists and winners).

The Otangarei Knights had a tumultuous season in 2014, which was capped off by winning their first ever Premiership, as they were crowned RLN MultiKai Cooker Premiership Champions, with a classic tale of the underdog as they came from behind to defeat the Hikurangi Stags.  Along the way, they also had to dispose of the Minor Premiers, the Takahiwai Warriors, in the major semi-final as well as defeating the Portland Panthers in the preliminary semi-final.

The 2014 season started out (for the Knights), in a terrible fashion, as they parted company with the City Rugby Club, right in the start of the playing season – this included having to return all playing strips back to the club.  The Knights could have folded completely after becoming homeless and without playing gear and a low morale, but instead they displayed the true spirit of ‘more than just a game’ and as a community they all pulled together and worked together to borrow interim playing strips, held weekly fundraising events and by mid-season they had not only Senior gear, but also juniors.

They fielded 5 junior teams – 7s, 9s, 11s, 13s and 15s (the format only required 4 junior teams, but they fielded 5).

The Otangarei Knights Premiers, historically have been known as a team with talent – but with poor disciplinary record often costing them games.  As part of the clubs commitment to “More than just a game,” Player/Coach Jackson Katene (Corrections Officer) enforced a team code of conduct that required the team to show discipline on and off the field – the result of this was the team went on to win the RLN MultiKai Cooker Premiership for the 2014 season and establish pride in the Knights as a Club and Community Leader.

For their end of year prize giving, all the players dressed in the playing strips and went on a parade in their local community out to Senior Citizens homes and gated communities.  Their pride and achievement has been well-deserved in the face of such adversity

Otangarei is one of Whangarei’s toughest areas, low socio-economic areas, with a bad reputation.  The Otangarei Knights were able to unite the community in the positive environment of Rugby League.

A contingent from the Knights attended the Awards which was held at The Floating Pavilion – Viaduct Harbour – Auckland on Wednesday the 28th January.


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Northlander Caleb Aekins has made his debut for the Penrith Panthers Holden Cup team on Sunday. Aekins was part of the U20s winning side which dominated and outclassed the Canberra Raiders 74-10. Aekins was a late call up, but relished the opportunity to come off the bench and contribute to his teams win.

The former Whangarei Boys’ High School student made the trip across the Tasman after signing with the Panthers in 2015 after being an integral part of the Northern Swords junior system for the past three years. Aekins was recruited by Australian player representative Daryl Mather for his maturity, vision, strength, speed and impressive work ethic.

Aekins, a previous NZRL trialist, was also part of the Scott Electrical Premiership winning side, Hikurangi Stags in 2015 where he was awarded the Man of the Match award.

The Panthers now sit comfortable at the top of the Holden Cup table with only one loss to the Raiders in round one.


It All Comes Down to the Final WeekIt All Comes Down to the Final Week

It All Comes Down to the Final Week!

It’s been a compelling RLN Premiership.  With one round to play, only three points separate 1st place and 5th place.

The Moerewa Tiger’s 34 – 14 victory over the Muriwhenua Kuaka will confirm the Tigers as Minor Premiers as the Tigers have the BYE in the final round. If the Kuaka were able to upset the Tigers it would have meant they had a mathematical chance of still making the top 6, they gave everything in a tough and physical encounter – however the Tigers showed too much class in the end.

Takahiwai stay in second place after a hard fought win over the Horahora Broncos 42 – 16.  The Broncos who have been very competitive in the last few weeks pushed the Warriors all the way – after going into half time with the scores even.  But it was the Warrior’s experience and structured game plan that saw them win.

Takahiwai will need to be on form to beat Hikurangi in what will be the match of the round with the winner taking 2nd place.  The Hikurangi Stags look to have rediscovered their form with the return of player/coach Joe Rau with a 40 – 26 win over the Portland Panthers.  The game befitted a semi-final atmosphere, Portland needed to win to stay in the top 6.  Portland now needs results to go their way to play finals football.

The City Knights jumped over the Panthers to take 6th place with a 38 – 26 win over the Northern Wairoa Bulls.  City, for many, are considered to be the dark horses of the RLN Premiership.  When they fire, they fire.  The Bulls who two weeks ago were on top of the table now sit in 5th place with back to back losses.  The Bulls play the Panthers in the final round, the Panthers need to win and will need Horahora to upset the Knights to take 6th place.

In the other match of the round Kerikeri were moments away from winning their first game in 2013, but it wasn’t to be with Otaua winning 28 – 26.

RLN Premiership Points Table