Ngatapa out to win the battle up front

Hard word on forwards as they prepare to take on unbeaten Waikohu.

Hard word on forwards as they prepare to take on unbeaten Waikohu.

Ngatapa coach Will Faulks will put the hard word on his forwards as they prepare to take on unbeaten Waikohu in the fourth round of the premier rugby competition at Patutahi tomorrow.

“We can’t afford to let the Waikohu forwards give their backs good clean ball,” said Larsawn Ngatapa coach Faulks, whose side suffered their first loss in three games before the Easter break.

“We know how good their backs are . . . we’ve got to win the battle up front.

“And when Waikohu do have the ball, we’ve got to deny them space, and get off our line and in their faces on defence.”

Despite the loss to OBM, Faulks said there would not be too many changes to the forward pack.

“We were reasonably happy with the way they went against OBM; we just lacked a bit of impact off the bench, but we’ve got a strong squad for tomorrow.”

Aon Waikohu go into the game having collected maximum points against Pirates, YMP and HSOB, but coach Tahi Hiroki is taking nothing for granted.

“It’s a good start, and one the boys deserve after all the hard work they’ve put in,” Hiroki said.

“But it’s only the first round. There’s a long way to go, and games against Ngatapa, especially on their home ground, are always tough,” Hiroki said.

“We’ve set a good platform. We just have to keep building on it.”

■ Earthwork Solutions High School Old Boys head to Wairoa tomorrow to play Athletic in what could be a testing time for the defending Lee Bros Shield champions.

HSOB are the title-holders in name only though, having lost a huge chunk of last season’s championship-winning team for various reasons.

‘“We’re still short on numbers and will have to play players out of position,” said coach Jamie Hutana, who — along with co-coach Scotty Leighton and manager Jonathan Poole — had to take the field in the last game, a 36-18 loss to Waikohu.

“It’s not the ideal situation, us having to play and using guys out of position,” Hutana said.

“It’s not fair on those players and that’s why I have the utmost respect for them, putting their hands up to fill the gaps in the team.”

Hutana is wary of newly promoted Athletic, who have lost their opening two games.

“They seem to raise their game at home,” he said.

“Being at home, they’ll be fired up to get their first win. They’ve had a couple of close games.

“Quentin King (former Poverty Bay loose forward) is back for them, and he’ll bring a wealth of experience. He’s a good player who will lead from the front.”

Hutana said “inexperienced flankers” Evan Bryant and 18-year-old Kupu Lloyd were playing well.

“They’ll improve with game time.”

Athletic coach Paul Morunga will have his fingers crossed that skipper and lock Brendon Bishop is fit to return after a shoulder injury.

“Brendon trained this week but we’ll see how he shapes up tomorrow,” manager Mike Pickering said.

Promising young fullback Sean Taylor has recovered from a shoulder injury and will start.

Bishop’s cousin Sam Bishop, a goalkicking prop, will make his first appearance this season.

“We need to play smarter rather than harder,” Pickering said.

“We’ve worked hard this week on a game plan that we think suits us.”

Ngatapa coach Will Faulks will put the hard word on his forwards as they prepare to take on unbeaten Waikohu in the fourth round of the premier rugby competition at Patutahi tomorrow.

“We can’t afford to let the Waikohu forwards give their backs good clean ball,” said Larsawn Ngatapa coach Faulks, whose side suffered their first loss in three games before the Easter break.

“We know how good their backs are . . . we’ve got to win the battle up front.

“And when Waikohu do have the ball, we’ve got to deny them space, and get off our line and in their faces on defence.”

Despite the loss to OBM, Faulks said there would not be too many changes to the forward pack.

“We were reasonably happy with the way they went against OBM; we just lacked a bit of impact off the bench, but we’ve got a strong squad for tomorrow.”

Aon Waikohu go into the game having collected maximum points against Pirates, YMP and HSOB, but coach Tahi Hiroki is taking nothing for granted.

“It’s a good start, and one the boys deserve after all the hard work they’ve put in,” Hiroki said.

“But it’s only the first round. There’s a long way to go, and games against Ngatapa, especially on their home ground, are always tough,” Hiroki said.

“We’ve set a good platform. We just have to keep building on it.”

■ Earthwork Solutions High School Old Boys head to Wairoa tomorrow to play Athletic in what could be a testing time for the defending Lee Bros Shield champions.

HSOB are the title-holders in name only though, having lost a huge chunk of last season’s championship-winning team for various reasons.

‘“We’re still short on numbers and will have to play players out of position,” said coach Jamie Hutana, who — along with co-coach Scotty Leighton and manager Jonathan Poole — had to take the field in the last game, a 36-18 loss to Waikohu.

“It’s not the ideal situation, us having to play and using guys out of position,” Hutana said.

“It’s not fair on those players and that’s why I have the utmost respect for them, putting their hands up to fill the gaps in the team.”

Hutana is wary of newly promoted Athletic, who have lost their opening two games.

“They seem to raise their game at home,” he said.

“Being at home, they’ll be fired up to get their first win. They’ve had a couple of close games.

“Quentin King (former Poverty Bay loose forward) is back for them, and he’ll bring a wealth of experience. He’s a good player who will lead from the front.”

Hutana said “inexperienced flankers” Evan Bryant and 18-year-old Kupu Lloyd were playing well.

“They’ll improve with game time.”

Athletic coach Paul Morunga will have his fingers crossed that skipper and lock Brendon Bishop is fit to return after a shoulder injury.

“Brendon trained this week but we’ll see how he shapes up tomorrow,” manager Mike Pickering said.

Promising young fullback Sean Taylor has recovered from a shoulder injury and will start.

Bishop’s cousin Sam Bishop, a goalkicking prop, will make his first appearance this season.

“We need to play smarter rather than harder,” Pickering said.

“We’ve worked hard this week on a game plan that we think suits us.”

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