Tough at the top

No wriggle room among pace setters.

No wriggle room among pace setters.

LOOKING TO PASS: Hikurangi prop George Tuala looks to offload. Other Hiku players are (from left) Hone Manuel, Te Kaiwi Parata and Jessie Tuala. Hiku take on TVC tomorrow. Picture by Doone Harrison


THREE weeks remain in the first round of the East Coast club rugby competition, and there’s no room to move at the top of the table — one point separates TVC, Ruatoria City and Hikurangi.

These leading clubs have produced game after game of top Coast-style rugby so far, as have other clubs further down the table, including Waiapu and Tokomaru Bay United.

But there have been inconsistent results from Tokararangi and Uawa. These two met last weekend: Uawa won by a clear margin. But — apart from great individual performances — it was underwhelming. For the sake of a strong competition this year, one hopes Uawa can build on that win and start looking like the team they were last year.

They are the fittest senior team in the comp, with largely the same squad as in 2016 — with some notable additions and deletions — but something hasn’t clicked so far. Uawa don’t look like a team who could enter the fray with any of the top three to contest a final.

However, Uawa had a break on Good Friday.

“As Toka did not have 15 men on the field at kick-off time, they are deemed to have defaulted,” East Coast Rugby Football Union rugby development officer Troy Para told The Gisborne Herald.

“Thus Uawa automatically get four converted tries, which gives them a bonus point as well.”

On Saturday, Uawa host Tokomaru Bay United — who have moved up several steps from last year — but only a brave person would bet big on the outcome.

At Tokomaru Bay, Tawhiti host City. This should be a tamer game from last Saturday’s victors at Whakarua Park, and Tawhiti will want to have a workout against them.

Waiapu host Hicks Bay at Rangitukia. Both are enjoyable teams to watch. Waiapu have deservedly concreted themselves in at No.4 on the table — they are another team who have raised their game a couple of notches this year.

Hicks Bay are well on the way back, improving every week. The game at George Nepia Memorial Park could be the time when it all comes together for them. It should be well worth watching.

It’s hard to know where to start with the TVC game against Hikurangi. The points difference last week was irrelevant: Hiku played out of their skins and showed what a powerful force they are.

Hiku will want to turn no-holds-barred play into a win at Whangaparaoa. But TVC will be in their faces for the first 40 minutes. The second 40 will be crucial and, without wishing to go on, that spell hasn’t been a TVC strong point in recent weeks.

TVC coach Whetu Haerewa will be aware of this, and might have spent the bye week doing nothing but practising second halves.

Expect Hiku to arrive with all guns blazing, but TVC might well have developed a strategy to fend them off.

A few gremlins got into the points table we printed on Tuesday. Here is the table again, with the Uawa change noted.

P W L D BP Pts

TVC 5 4 - 1 5 23

Ruatoria City 5 4 - 1 5 23

Hikurangi 5 4 1 - 6 22

Waiapu 5 3 2 - 5 17

Uawa 5 2 3 - 5 13

Hicks Bay 6 2 4 - 4 12

Tokararangi 6 2 4 - 2 10

Toko Bay Utd 6 2 4 - 2 10

Tawhiti 5 - 5 - - 0

THREE weeks remain in the first round of the East Coast club rugby competition, and there’s no room to move at the top of the table — one point separates TVC, Ruatoria City and Hikurangi.

These leading clubs have produced game after game of top Coast-style rugby so far, as have other clubs further down the table, including Waiapu and Tokomaru Bay United.

But there have been inconsistent results from Tokararangi and Uawa. These two met last weekend: Uawa won by a clear margin. But — apart from great individual performances — it was underwhelming. For the sake of a strong competition this year, one hopes Uawa can build on that win and start looking like the team they were last year.

They are the fittest senior team in the comp, with largely the same squad as in 2016 — with some notable additions and deletions — but something hasn’t clicked so far. Uawa don’t look like a team who could enter the fray with any of the top three to contest a final.

However, Uawa had a break on Good Friday.

“As Toka did not have 15 men on the field at kick-off time, they are deemed to have defaulted,” East Coast Rugby Football Union rugby development officer Troy Para told The Gisborne Herald.

“Thus Uawa automatically get four converted tries, which gives them a bonus point as well.”

On Saturday, Uawa host Tokomaru Bay United — who have moved up several steps from last year — but only a brave person would bet big on the outcome.

At Tokomaru Bay, Tawhiti host City. This should be a tamer game from last Saturday’s victors at Whakarua Park, and Tawhiti will want to have a workout against them.

Waiapu host Hicks Bay at Rangitukia. Both are enjoyable teams to watch. Waiapu have deservedly concreted themselves in at No.4 on the table — they are another team who have raised their game a couple of notches this year.

Hicks Bay are well on the way back, improving every week. The game at George Nepia Memorial Park could be the time when it all comes together for them. It should be well worth watching.

It’s hard to know where to start with the TVC game against Hikurangi. The points difference last week was irrelevant: Hiku played out of their skins and showed what a powerful force they are.

Hiku will want to turn no-holds-barred play into a win at Whangaparaoa. But TVC will be in their faces for the first 40 minutes. The second 40 will be crucial and, without wishing to go on, that spell hasn’t been a TVC strong point in recent weeks.

TVC coach Whetu Haerewa will be aware of this, and might have spent the bye week doing nothing but practising second halves.

Expect Hiku to arrive with all guns blazing, but TVC might well have developed a strategy to fend them off.

A few gremlins got into the points table we printed on Tuesday. Here is the table again, with the Uawa change noted.

P W L D BP Pts

TVC 5 4 - 1 5 23

Ruatoria City 5 4 - 1 5 23

Hikurangi 5 4 1 - 6 22

Waiapu 5 3 2 - 5 17

Uawa 5 2 3 - 5 13

Hicks Bay 6 2 4 - 4 12

Tokararangi 6 2 4 - 2 10

Toko Bay Utd 6 2 4 - 2 10

Tawhiti 5 - 5 - - 0

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