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A day of East Coast fare to whet the appetite of all fans

Rugby fans should be licking their lips.

Tomorrow’s Week 3, Jury Harrison Memorial Cup Round 2 action in the Enterprise Cars Ngati Porou East Coast club championship is must-see stuff.

At Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa, the competition’s dominant force — unbeaten Tihirau Victory Club (10 points) — will host the sixth-placed Maunga, Hikurangi (6pts).

(Moved to a Sunday Kick Off) At Kawakawa mai Tawhiti, Hicks Bay will look to go at least one point better against Tokararangi than they did away in the 21-all draw against Hikurangi last Saturday.

At Whakarua Park, a Ruatoria City team flushed with success after a 43-10 victory over Tokomaru Bay United in Week 2 of Round 2, will want that to continue against Uawa.

United have the bye.

The availability of regular captain and openside flanker Jack Richardson, with his speed and terrier-like energy, will further pep up a Ruatoria City back row that (with Tanetoa Parata at No.8) has rugged competitiveness as its trademark.

Tighthead prop Pera Bishop led the team in Richardson’s absence and did a superb job. Bishop debuted at home for City against United in a loss. The year was 2007.

Uawa will surely hit City with everything but the kitchen sink: they must.

“We didn’t play them in the first round but, judging by their results, they’re in good form,” Uawa coach Chris Richardson said.

Three of Richardson’s biggest guns need to fire in Ruatoria tomorrow. Those guns are lock Patrick Allen, captain and halfback Sam Parkes and first five-eighth Josh Dearden.

Hicks Bay coach Aaron expects State of Origin-style physicality in his outfit’s home game against Tokararangi, and the hosts’ preparation this week reflects that.

“We’ve been working on defensive line-speed,” King said.

The Hicks Bay back-row has a great support player in blindside flanker Frank Taiapa and a punishing one-on-one defender in No.8 Tanetoa Parata.

With Tokararangi captain and fetcher Hone Haerewa among the opposition ball-carriers, they will need to be sharp for 80 minutes.

A moment’s hesitation, and Haerewa will have left them in his wake — in front of what is expected to be a full house.

Complacency plays no part in TVC’s sporting make-up.

And though they are No.1 and Hikurangi No.6 two games into the second round, a loss to The Maunga would perk everyone else up at the same time.

Fortunately for TVC, their most experienced players — captain and fetcher Mo Mato, No.8 Hoani Te Moana and fullback Verdon Bartlett — are among the best rugby thinkers in East Coast rugby. They are grounded, which helps keep everyone else on an even keel, and the Kyil Beach-led Hikurangi are not a side any team would want to play loosely against.

Discipline has never been a problem for TVC, but passion has always been a huge factor in The Maunga’s success. Beach is a blindside flanker: he and the rest of the visitors will tackle ferociously. They will contest every loose ball. And they will not be in awe of Cape Runaway’s finest, regardless of their record.

by Ben O’Brien-Leaf
Published May 28, 2021 12:47PM