Waiapu win by a point
No matter where they are on the table or the form they are showing, a Waiapu-Hicks Bay match is hard to call and hard on the body.
George Nepia Memorial Park in Rangitukia was the venue for the sides’ first meeting this year, and the hosts, Waiapu, won the closest game of Week 4 competition 25-24.
Tihirau Victory Club outran Tokomaru Bay United 73-0 at Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa and Tokararangi made a successful trip to Kahuitara, beating Hikurangi 40-10 on Saturday.
TVC and Tokararangi, placed first and second respectively with 14 points, lead the seven-team Enterprise Cars Ngati Porou East Coast club rugby competition.
Defending champions Uawa and fourth-placed Waiapu both have six points, with Tokomaru Bay United (4pts), Hicks Bay (2pts) and Hikurangi in pursuit.
Saturday’s win at home was the first of the season for Waiapu, and their captain and fullback, Hamuera Baker, was delighted.
“Both teams played some great rugby; we had a lot to play for,” Baker said.
“All in all, it was pleasing to see the boys dig deep and finish strongly.
“Our goals going forward are to play consistently well for the full 80 minutes, and nail the discipline side of the game.”
In perfect conditions, Baker scored the first points of the 4 v 6 clash 11 minutes into the game. From an attacking lineout 10 metres from the right corner, hooker Grayson Mauheni found lock Kahu Manuel at No.4 and halfback Tipuna Tangaere cleared. The ball went through four pairs of hands to the left before a lightning ruck made it possible for Baker to dot down five metres in from the left touch.
Superb length of pass from Tangaere and first-five Slade Tiopira — plus the magical footwork of centre Manu Papuni-Isles — made what was a magnificent try possible. The score was 5-0.
In the 22nd minute, Waiapu grabbed their second try after a long, disciplined build-up. It began with a defensive scrum eight metres off the right touch, six metres from their goal-line. Waiapu went left, through six sets of hands, Baker kicked ahead, and six phases later hooker Grayson Mauheni scored in the right corner. Waiapu led 10-0.
In the 28th minute, Hicks Bay scored from a magic moment from a five-metre attacking scrum, set 15m off the left touch. Hicks Bay legend, reserve halfback Tyrone Delamere, took the ball, dashed right, and scored next to the posts. First five-eighth-cum-No.8 Manahi Brooking converted the try to close it to 10-7.
In the 33rd minute, Waiapu grabbed their third try. They won a lineout 27m from the goal-line at the right corner, and pushed the ball into the midfield. There followed a dazzling effort by Waiapu player of the day No.8 Richard Green. He stepped in, out and away then accelerated to score next to the left post. First-five Slade Tiopira converted for 17-7, the halftime score.
Three minutes after the resumption, Waiapu were at it again. Hicks Bay had turned the ball over in Waiapu territory. Waiapu probed left then hammered down the other side of the ground, Baker feeding the ball to big right wing Cale Cottle, who was held but slipped the ball back to Baker, who sped 21m to score in the left corner. It was 22-7.
Hicks Bay fullback Tuhawaiki Waiti was the right man (for scorching pace), in the right place (45m out from the opposition goal-line . . . but unopposed), at the right time: the 55th minute. He scooped up a loose ball and flew down the right touch to close it to 22-12.
As with the Green try, Waiti got across across on his wits and great footwork. Brooking converted Waiti’s try — Waiapu still led, 22-14.
In the 60th minute Tiopira kicked a penalty goal for Waiapu from 23m back, 13m off the left touch for 25-14.
Hicks Bay co-captain and openside flanker Frank Taiapa struck in the 65th minute to make it 25-19.
Having been awarded a penalty by referee Matt Richards 10m into Waiapu territory, Hicks Bay retained possession over six phases before the wily Taiapa, a thinking man’s back-row forward, sneaked between the big men to score 10m in from the left corner. At around the same time, Papuni-Isles was given a yellow card.
With four minutes to play, Hicks Bay drove from an attacking scrum set five metres from the left touch on the Waiapu 22. They went openside, picking-and-going seven times before Brooking scored . . . but could not convert his own try, at Hicks Bay 24, Waiapu 25.
Waiapu held on for six minutes to win by a point.