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Hicks Bay topple champs in Coast club rugby

(LOOKING FOR THE OFFLOAD: TVC’s Ron Paul McRoberts tries to slip past Uawa tackler Sam Parkes in their club final last year. McRoberts is continuing good form for TVC, scoring a try against visitors Hikurangi on Saturday. TVC won the match on their home ground 25-11. Picture by Paul Rickard)

This competition is unlike any other.

In Week 2 of Enterprise Cars Ngati Porou East Coast club rugby, hard-trucking Hicks Bay beat defending champions Uawa 15-10 at Tolaga Bay — and in Week 3, Ruatoria City, a blue-collar crew in their 100th year, beat last Saturday’s heroes, at their place, 38-37.

Beaten 2021 finalists Tihirau Victory Club beat Hikurangi 31-11 at TVC’s spectacular venue Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa, and Pango Productions Waiapu proved to be fit, focused and efficient in a 41-0 win against Tokomaru Bay United at George Nepia Memorial Park in Rangitukia.

In the 101-year history of rugby on the Coast, the underdogs shaking up the established order has become a tradition.

And, according to City head coach Ian Logan, there’s more where that came from.

“To me, these boys are just starting to hit their straps, playing to the potential we knew they had,” Logan said.

“Lornch (manager Lorne Boyce-Goldsmith) and I were pretty happy with how they went, especially in the first half.”

City captain and openside flanker Jack Richardson won the toss and chose an end, Hicks Bay skipper and loosehead prop Manahi Brooking opting to kick off. The home team had the southerly breeze at their backs in the first half.

Hicks Bay opened the scoring with a penalty goal to first five-eighth Rapata Haerewa for 3-0, four minutes into the game. Centre Pamona Samupo followed that up with a try, converted by Haerewa, for 10-0.

In the 19th minute, Richardson scored Ruatoria City’s first try; Hicks’ Bay then led 10-5.

Referee Whetu Haerewa awarded the visitors a penalty try in the 23rd minute to give City a 12-10 lead. Richardson completed a try-double, with a conversion to lock Nathaniel Fox, for 19-10 after 31 minutes.

Rapata Haerewa landed his second penalty goal of Week 3 for Hicks Bay to close it to 19-13 in the 36th minute.

It was left to the visitors’ young scrum-anchor Atonio Walker-Leawere, in the 39th minute, to close the first-half scoring with a try — converted by Fox — for 26-13 to Ruatoria City.

The lion-hearted Brooking scored 44 minutes into what these two clubs had made a superb contest with their muscle, skill and nerve. The Hicks Bay skipper’s try went without conversion — City were 26-18 ahead. Rapata Haerewa scored a top try in the 53rd minute and converted it to close the score to 26-25 and then, incredibly, repeated the dose in the 67th minute to take the lead back for Hicks Bay, 32-26.

An unconverted try to blindside flanker Whetu King-Taufa put the home team in an even better position — 37-26, with nine minutes to play.

In the 78th minute, City centre Taiaho White — a capable and efficient operator — scored. His try was converted by first-five Keenan Kaiwai. And finally, in the 82nd minute of an epic at Kawakawa mai Tawhiti that will not soon be forgotten, it was Ruatoria City halfback Neihana Ratahi-Brown who scored the match-winning try for 38-37.

This high-scoring, close game, a come-from-behind classic win to Ruatoria City, owes much to players who performed their core roles well. Richardson and No.8 Tanetoa Parata were top-notch as lineout forwards for the visitors. They went up against two fine Hicks Bay exponents in lock Meiha Waitoa and No.8 Weihana Delamere.

These four make a huge difference to their teams week by week because of their skills and consistency. Their high level of fitness allows them to be a factor from start to finish, especially in games worthy of a big effort.

Rapata Haerewa and big front-rower Atonio Walker-Leawere well deserved the nod they received as Hicks Bay and Ruatoria City MVPs (most valuable players).

TVC too good for Hiku
Tihirau Victory Club have made a tidy start to the season.

The only unbeaten team on the table, TVC missed a game — because of health concerns in the opposition camp — on Opening Day, and went into Week 3 having beaten Ruatoria City 25-11 away from home.

At home for the first time this year, the Haimona Waititi/Tutere Waenga-coached outfit outscored Hikurangi by five tries to one in a 31-11 win to the hosts at Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa.

Cape Runaway’s finest were in excellent form, centre Willy Ford scoring two tries, with a try apiece to halfback Bless Perese-Elliott, MVP second-five Tame Anderson and right wing Ron-Paul McRoberts. Starting first-five Ngarangi Haerewa kicked two conversions and second-five-cum-first-five Waenga, one.

For Hikurangi, reserve No.8 Te Kaiwi Parata scored a try and fullback Kris Palmer kicked two penalty goals.

Palmer kicked those penalties before the break. Parata’s try for The Maunga (Mountain) constituted the only points of the second half.

Hikurangi coach Matt Richards said TVC played a fast game and did their damage in the first 20 minutes, but Hikurangi’s communication was much better in the second half.

Parata came on and made an impact, Te Aho Morice’s talk in the backs picked up, and captain and openside flanker Kyil Beach got the forwards going.

“Our set-piece has been a work-on,” Richards said.

“Both teams pinched a few lineouts off each other, and our scrum was good.”

Parata’s second-half try came in the 56th minute, from an attacking lineout 20 metres from the left corner.

Tighthead prop Putahi Morice and blindside flanker Tapui Blane gave Beach the perfect lift at No.4, rake Paraki Pahau found him with the throw and big Hikurangi second-five Billy Manuel made a big charge midfield. Six pick-and-go plays later, Parata went across to score eight metres from the right touch.

TVC co-coach Haimona Waititi said: “Until the 60th minute, fitness wasn’t a factor and we were good in broken play.

“Generally, our defence was solid.”

Waiapu whitewash Toko United
Along with surprises, NPEC club rugby throws up a one-way scoreline occasionally.

One such was Pango Productions Waiapu’s 41-0 victory over Tokomaru Bay United on Saturday.

Although the reintegrated Waiapu beat Ruatoria City 25-19 on Opening Day and drew 10-10 with Hikurangi (The “Maunga” — mountain) on May 21, a win on the scale of Saturday’s result was not thought to be on the cards.

At George Nepia Memorial Park, Waiapu racked up seven tries and held the visitors scoreless. They lead the competition going into Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

Waiapu were dominant at the weekend. Jesse Haenga, the victorious coach, was thrilled with the power his team used up front, that they kept their structure, and that they were then able to go wide — at pace.

Considering the Coast’s geography and logistics of travelling to train, that performance suggests off-field preparation and communication as effective as that seen on a great day for Waiapu players past and present at Windy Park.

For the second week in a row, bumper-to-bumper parking was the way of it.

Waiapu captain and tighthead prop Perrin Manuel won the toss and chose an end.

Manuel had reason to respect United’s match-effort under first-five Les Te Reo.

“They have a tough foward pack who never stopped playing — and they made us have to match that, defensively, for the full 80 minutes.”

The home team played into a slight southerly breeze in the first half.

In the 10th minute, openside flanker Will Bolingford scored the first try of his double, and in the 19th, right wing Phoenix Manuel scored. Halfback Hamuera Baker converted both tries for 14-0.

Centre Keelan Poi’s try in the 40th minute was not converted.

In the 51st minute, lock Niki Mita dotted down, and in the 60th, Bolingford completed his double.

Reserve lock Tripoli Poi, a great servant of Waiapu, in the 69th minute became the third forward to score a second-half try. None of them had been converted.

Baker converted hooker Grayson Mauheni’s try in the 79th minute for 41-0.

Blindside flanker Scott McNeil won the MVP award for the home team with Tokomaru Bay United coach Lisa Muller giving their award to fullback Uzziah Parata, who carried the ball well and was committed in defence.

by Ben O’Brien-Leaf
Published June 01, 2022 1:53PM