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TVC and Maunga retain memorial trophies in exciting home games

So far Tihirau Victory Club have taken the biggest and the best that everyone else could throw at them.

They beat Uawa 33-14 at Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa on Saturday in Week 2, Round 2 of Enterprise Cars Ngati Porou East Coast rugby.

Cape Runaway powerhouse TVC have won eight games in a row since the season opened on March 27. Having claimed the Kath McLean Memorial Cup for the first round, the Mo Mato-led unit defended the George Keelan Memorial Trophy on home soil and have the maximum 10 competition points in the second-round quest for the Jury Harrison Memorial Cup.

Second-placed Hicks Bay (7pts) drew 21-21 with their hosts — team number six Hikurangi (2pts) — in Week 2, the guardians of Kahuitara retaining the Pirika Huriwai-Jones Memorial Trophy.

Team No.3 Ruatoria City (5pts, placed ahead of defending champions Tokararangi — who also have 5pts — on points differential) beat seventh-placed Tokomaru Bay United 43-7 at Hatea-a-rangi. United have yet to take a point in R2; NPEC club rugby’s No.6 outfit, Uawa, have two points.

Defending champions Tokararangi had the bye in Week 2.

TVC captain openside flanker Mato knows that his forward pack’s improvement at set-piece stands the Victory Club in good stead.

“On Saturday, our scrum was tight and made it possible for us to attack from that platform,” said the 2017 Rangiora Keelan Memorial Shield-winning skipper. “We’ve stuck to our structure and built on what we’d done in the first round.”

Uawa coach Chris Richardson acknowledged the versatility of his men.

“Rikki Kernohan was our Most Valuable Player; he and George Waddy were into everything. Rik started at centre, moved to lock — George was lock, went to blindside flanker. Te Atapo Kirikiri, who was down to start at blindside, instead had to step up, do a job at loosehead prop — and did, for the first 18 minutes. When our regular loosehead John Mathias got a yellow card later on, Te Atapo even went back and covered that spot for us again.

“TVC had most of the possession and better field position.”

TVC opened the scoring with a try to nippy halfback Anaru Waiariki two metres to the left of the posts, nine minutes into the game. Centre Tutere Waenga converted Waiariki’s try for 7-0.

Left-wing Ron-Paul McRoberts scored the Victory Club’s second try, unconverted, at the 32nd minute to give the hosts a 12-0 advantage at the break.

TVC No.8 Hoani Te Moana scored after 47 minutes; reserve second-five Benny Haerewa’s conversion put the unbeaten competition leaders 19-0 up.

Waenga scored in the 52nd minute, which (with his own conversion), gave the home team a 26-0 lead.

At this point, Uawa dug deep and found a try through Kirikiri in the 60th minute; first-five Slade Tiopira converted Kirikiri’s try for Uawa 7, TVC 26.

Cape Runaway’s best were not long in responding: their MVP first-five Manu Herewini dotted down for 31-7, 63 minutes in. Haerewa converted for 33-7 but Uawa’s Tiopira had the last word in the 78th minute: he converted No.8 Mahuta Moran’s try.

TVC had won 33-14.

Uawa game-day captain second-five Sam Parkes is a feisty competitor — and a realist.

“TVC were far better on the day,” he said. “We need to go back to the drawing board.”

There may be no harder nut to crack at home than Hikurangi at Kahuitara.

As TVC defended the George Keelan Memorial Trophy v Uawa on their home soil, so did The Maunga defy Hicks Bay in Week 2 of the second round.

Hicks Bay coach Aaron King doffed his cap to the hosts.

“That was a good, tough game — our boys started off with a hiss and a roar,” he said.

“We were 13-0 up at half time, and then Hikurangi came back really well in the second half.”

Hikurangi captain openside flanker Kyil Beach led his resilient, committed unit by example.

“Our boys played with heart: they never gave up — especially on defence — and stuck to our game-plan,” said Beach.

“We’re very proud we could hold on to our Uncle Pirika’s cup for another year.”

Hicks Bay No.8 Anton King opened the scoring with a 45m penalty goal in the 13th minute, his teammate MVP first-five Pamona Samupo went in for the first try after 19 minutes: score 8-0 to Uawa. The visitors’ big loosehead prop Manahi Brooking was the next man to score, three minutes out from half time.

Matt Richards is a calm sort, but whatever he and Hikurangi assistant coach Drummond Morice said to their players at the break, it had a profound effect.

The Maunga’s hooker, Jorian Tangaere, scored nine minutes after the resumption for Hikurangi 5, Uawa 13, before a new hero emerged for the locals.

First-five Te Aho Morice potted his first conversion of the day to draw the home team to within six points of the lead. No.8 Rafael Tuhura grabbed another try for Hikurangi at the 58 minute-mark, which with Haenga’s extra two points gave The Maunga a 14-13 advantage.

It was the first time Hikurangi had led in the game.

At the 65th minute, Samupo kicked a penalty goal to grab the lead back for Hicks Bay — 16-14 — and five minutes after that, the away team’s scrum anchor, tighthead prop Josh King looked to put the game away with a five-pointer for 21-14.

Though his grand effort was not converted, Hicks Bay had the winning of the game within their grasp.

Hikurangi then mustered all of their strength to make one last play — and in the 79th minute, Hikurangi reserve Perrin Manuel (who had replaced tighthead prop Putahi Morice 60 minutes in), scored a magnificent try.

All hinged on Te Aho Morice’s ability to convert the Manuel try; he did, and the 21-all draw saw The Maunga keep the iconic Pirika Huriwai-Jones Memorial Trophy.

Pirika Huriwai-Jones played on the wing, at halfback and at centre for both The Maunga and Hicks Bay, wearing sky blue six times for NPEC in 1987-1988. He played for the Coast seven-a-side team as an 18 year-old in 1987.

Drummond Morice gave this breakdown on the game: “Possession was pretty even, 50-50, with our boys having a 60-40 territorial advantage in the second half,” he said. “We tried to score off first/second phase, hence mistakes, turn-over ball and a high penalty-count; Jorian got a yellow card in the 55th minute. Hicks Bay have a lot of big men who kept pace thoughout — that game was fast and very physical.”

It was a good win for Ruatoria City.

As visitors to Hatea-a-Rangi, Lisa Muller’s City did exactly what they needed to in the 5 away to 7 clash v Tokomaru Bay United. City took the first-round meeting 48-5 at Whakarua Park, and won again at the weekend, 43-7.

On April 3 in Ruatoria, four try-scoring flyer Leethan Tipene-Rawiri’s terrific form at fullback had dominated proceedings. In sublime conditions on Saturday, the City fullback scored only one try — as did tighthead prop Jayden Leiua-Pokia, No.8 Tanetoa Parata, second-five Luke Brown and reserve blindside flanker Shaun Aupouri, with a double to right-wing James Te Kahaki.

Lock Nathaniel Fox kicked four conversions for City. Their MVP was blindside flanker Tawhai Aupouri.

The visitors led 31-0 at half time.

Tokomaru Bay United’s MVP was centre Niao Savage and their sole try-scorer was reserve lock Adam Williams. His try was converted by left-wing Holden Maraki.

United coach Kuru Gray was rapt to see his club scrummage well again, and that while they started slowly, they finished strongly.

Poverty Bay premier grade referee Isaac Hughes, a proud son of Tokomaru Bay, was delighted to blow the whistle at Hatea-a-Rangi and like the men in the middle at Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa (Jackson Reuben-Swinton) and Kahuitara (Eruera Kawhia), he did a fine job.

The draw for Week 3, Jury Harrison Memorial Cup Round 2 —

SATURDAY, 2.30pm: Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa, Tihirau Victory Club v Hikurangi (referee Jackson Reuben-Swinton, assistant referees Mohi Shelford and Ario Rewi); Whakarua Park, Ruatoria City v Uawa (referee Eruera Kawhia); Kawakawa mai Tawhiti

SUNDAY, 2.30pm: Hicks Bay v Tokararangi (referee Harawira Matahiki, David Newton and Melvin Ashford).

Ngati Porou East Coast women’s rugby, hosted by Waiapu Rugby Club, George Nepia Memorial Park, Rangitukia —

SUNDAY, 12.30pm: Waiapu v Tihirau Victory Club.

1.15pm: Waiapu v Hikurangi.

2pm: Tihirau Victory Club v Hikurangi.

by Ben O’Brien-Leaf
Published May 27, 2021 1:07PM