NGATI Porou East Coast suffered a heavy lose in the opening round of Heartland Championship rugby on Saturday.
The Coast lost 42-13 to Thames Valley in Ruatoria.
“Very, very disappointed,” Coast coach Troy Para said. He and co-coach Wayne Ensor were hoping their side could end a 25-game losing streak in the competition.
In their second season as a coaching duo at this level, both had worked hard on the team’s fitness, something that had let the Coast down in recent seasons.
But it wasn’t a lack of fitness that let the Sky Blues down on this occasion . . . it was the number of unforced errors, particularly an inability to hold on to the ball in crucial areas and in good positions.
“We tried to push too many passes when we should have been looking to retain possession and recycle the ball,” said Para, whose side are away to Wairarapa Bush in Round 2. Bush were beaten 79-7 by Wanganui.
“At times we showed glimpses of potential but at the end of the day we made far too many mistakes. One of the positives for us was the fact that the boys hung in during the second half. They tackled themselves to a standstill.”
Leading the way in that department were skipper and hooker Perrin Manuel, locks Hone Haerewa and Morgan Poi and the loose trio of Trent Proffit, Paddy Allen and Parekura Lalaga.
Valley coach Matt Bartleet wasn’t entirely happy with his team’s performance.
“Happy to get the win; it’s not often we come to Ruatoria and get a bonus-point win, but we made too many mistakes,” Bartleet said. His side play Wanganui on Saturday.
“It doesn’t get much harder than that and we can’t afford to make the mistakes we made today.”
But Bartleet can take heart from a forward pack who set the platform for the six-try-to-one victory.
Co-captain and hooker Hayden Wisnewski (who scored the first try in the 10th minute after first five-eighth Chris Doak had kicked a penalty), lock Aaron Carroll (a loan player from Bay of Plenty), No.8 Alex Bradley and former Irish under-18 and u20 openside flanker Rory Moloney were particularly prominent.
With the Coast trailing 25-6 after 28 minutes Lalaga closed the gap with a try, following good work from the forwards.
Fullback Kris Palmer, who had earlier landed two penalties and was the pick of the backs, added the conversion and the Coast had their tails up.
They continued to take the game to Thames Valley and looked certain to reduce the deficit just before halftime when they camped on the Valley line, only to turn the ball over.
Valley then rubbed salt into the wound when they went the length of the field and Bradley scored for a 30-13 halftime lead.
Ten minutes into the second half, Valley replacement halfback Jarred Bayliss made an immediate impact when he scored a try with his second touch of the ball.
Another replacement, Matt Hart, added a try which Jarrod Goodall converted to complete the scoring in the 80th minute.
NGATI POROU EAST COAST 13 (P Lalaga try; Kris Palmer con, 2 pen).
Thames Valley 42 (H Wisnewski, Shaun Hill, Tyrone Keith, A Bradley, J Bayliss, M Hart tries; C Doak 2 con, 2 pen, J Goodall con).