How do you stop Uawa?
That’s the question being asked after the Tolaga Bay team’s 64-8 home win against Waiapu in Week 1 of the East Coast club rugby competition on Saturday.
“It was a fast game in the heat; thankfully the ground wasn’t too hard,” Uawa captain and lock Scott Lasenby said.
“Our five young guys impressed me today. They’re good keen players. Jake Saywell came on at left wing in the second half — he’s light, but he’s also gutsy.”
Uawa have the best of both worlds. The 10-tries-to-one performance by Lasenby’s big blue crew featured skilful interplay between a forward pack that includes experienced powerhouse Kerehama Blackman at No.8 and tough finishers such as left-winger Jordan Birch.
Blackman scored the first try of the season, Birch a hat-trick, halfback Jesse Saywell produced a double in his player-of-the-day performance, and blindside flanker Rikki Kernohan, centre Drew Hunt and fullback BJ Sidney scored one try each. Sidney kicked seven conversions.
Stung by Blackman’s athleticism and try 21 seconds into the game, Waiapu captain and tighthead prop Frank Manuel and his fellow forwards steeled themselves.
Crowd of 500 supporters
The crowd of 500 saw the visitors run the ball back hard and straight, loosehead prop Hoto Te Whitu drawing two or three defensive players to him every time he had the ball in his hands.
Lively fullback Slade Tiopira — from a metre outside the 22 and 10 metres to the right of the posts — kicked a penalty goal to get Waiapu on the board for 35-3 in the 25th minute. The home side led 40-3 at halftime.
Waiapu second five-eighth Grayson Mauheni provided his team with a magic moment in the 55th minute, ducking around a ruck 15m to the right of the posts to score following five phases.
Replacement centre Pakanga Te Whitu played with great commitment for Waiapu but had to be dismissed by referee Whiti Timutimu for a second yellow-card offence in the 70th minute. And although Uawa hooker Adrian Allen was yellow-carded in the first half and teammate and first-five Tipene Meihana was likewise given 10 minutes following the break, the game was played in good spirit.
Waiapu coach Kahu Waitoa praised the work of their player of the day, Hoto Te Whitu, in taking the ball up and tackling strongly.
“After halftime, we kept the ball in hand as opposed to kicking it back to them,” Waitoa said.
The second-half scoring was 24-5 in Uawa’s favour, an improvement from Waiapu’s perspective.
Waiapu captain Manuel said the physicality of the game was intense.
“Des Harrison, our blindside flanker, got around the paddock,” he said.
“He put his body on the line and took some knocks.”
Uawa coach Tip Nukunuku said: “We wanted to be effective before trying to be expansive. We maintained our structure for long periods, whereas Waiapu were unorthodox and played to their strengths.”
Uawa 64 (Jordan Birch 3, Jesse Saywell 2, Rikki Kernohan, Kerehama Blackman, Tipene Meihana, Drew Hunt, Niao Savage; BJ Sidney 7 con)
Waiapu 8 (Grayson Mauheni try; Slade Tiopira pen).
Stop-go, crash and bash — that was Hicks Bay player-coach Warren Henderson’s colourful summation of his team’s 25-12 loss at home to Tokomaru Bay United.
“We haven’t always had a full complement at every training session, but our forwards were solid, and there were lots of positives,” said Henderson, who played first five-eighth.
“United are a good team with a blend of young and old well-led by (loosehead prop) Adam Williams.
“For us, captain and No.8 Frank Taiapa, and Tyrone Delamere (second-five) and Leef Delamere (centre) in the midfield carried the ball well. The community support for our guys is enormous and they’re stoked with the boys’ effort, their courage.”
Lock Saul Parata, openside flanker Christian Lawton, left-winger Uzziah Parata, second-five Canaan Parata and centre Jake Williams all scored tries for the visitors.
Tokomaru Bay led 10-0 at halftime.
After the break, Hicks Bay loosehead prop Dylan Biddle scored to make the score 25-5, and Taiapa produced a superb try to close it further, to 25-10, with left-winger Pirika Pahuru-Huriwai converting to make it 25-12.
The Mike Tiopira-coached Tokomaru Bay team played strongly and thoroughly deserved their win, but Hicks Bay’s second-half tries were absolute crackers.
Off a turnover 10 minutes after the break, Hicks Bay fullback Sean Murtagh put up a bomb at halfway. He then chased and caught the ball at the visitors’ 22 and a quick clearance to the left from Tyrone Delamere to Taiapa kept up the momentum.
Next up, tighthead prop Jack Hovell made ground, so did lock Wallace Walker and hooker and player of the day Richard King, before Biddle charged the last metre to score, 10 metres in from the left corner.
At the 65-minute-mark, Taiapa came off the back of a scrum 10m off the right sideline on the 22. He ran openside and beat four men to score between the posts.
Despite the loss, Hicks Bay have every reason to fizz at training tonight and Henderson was more than happy with the performance of referee James Palmer.
“The boys were delighted with James,” Henderson said.
“His communication and control were very good. He was excellent for both teams.”
DEFENDING champions Tihirau Victory Club beat Tokararangi 36-33 at Te Araroa Domain, TVC having led 21-14 at halftime.
Efforts to get the TVC scoring details were unsuccessful.
For Tokararangi, loosehead prop Josh King scored a hat-trick of tries, No.8 Anton King and replacement Henare Brooking scored a try each, and first-five Pamona Samupo kicked four conversions.
Hikurangi beat Ruatoria City by default.