‘A table-moving game’

CAUGHT JUST SHORT: YMP halfback Brian Whaitiri-White is brought down short of the line by No.8 Efoti Moimoi in a premier club rugby game at Rugby Park. Keeping a close eye on the action are referee Karl Macpherson and assistant Royce Maynard. YMP coach Steve Smith says Whaitiri-White is an energetic player “who puts his body on the line every week”. Picture by Paul Rickard

YMP coach Steve Smith hopes to field an unchanged line-up for the first time this season when they play Ngatapa in the first game of Round 2 of premier club rugby at the Oval tomorrow.

“It’s been a long time coming and fingers crossed no one picks up an injury or illness between now and the kick-off,” Smith told The Herald.

He has labelled it “a table-moving game” for both teams.

“I don’t usually take a lot of notice of the points situation, preferring to focus on our performances. But with six games to go before the playoffs, it’s pretty tight at the top, apart from (competition leaders) Waikohu.”

Larsawn Ngatapa are third on 16 points, two ahead of YMP, who are followed by Kevin Hollis Glass Pirates and Enterprise Cars OBM, both on 12.

“A win would give us a little breathing space. More importantly, we want to build on the momentum of the past two games — wins against HSOB and Athletic.

“The firepower is in our backs but the forwards have been working hard in recent weeks. The return of Anaru Poihipi (prop) has added strength and experience to the front row, which we will need against a Ngatapa team who I believe have a strong pack.

“The other good news for us is Willis Tamatea trained this week and is close to making a comeback. There’s still a chance Willis could make the bench tomorrow but I don’t really want to risk him. I’d rather wait another week.”

Senior players in backline

Halfback Brian Whaitiri-White, first five-eighth Willie Brown and skipper and second five Reihana Wyllie are the senior players in the backline, but Smith said Wyllie’s midfield partner Dominic Wilson and wingers Tip Jones and Te Paenga were improving with every game.

“Vaughan White (flanker) and lock Meke Brown, who has recovered from injury, are young players with huge potential.

“Brian is our link between the backs and forwards. He sets the tempo of the game. He’s a good passer of the ball but I’ve been encouraging him to run a bit more and it’s paying off.

“He’s not running for the sake of it but picking the right time. He’s also got a lot of energy and puts his body on the line every week.”

Smith said their ill-discipline was frustrating him.

“I want us to play 80 minutes with 15 players, not 14, not 13,” he said. “We have to take a good look at ourselves. Why is it happening and in what areas?

“Discipline, or lack of it, could decide this game.”

Smith said he had been following Ngatapa’s progress lately.

“As well as a solid pack, they have a strong midfield (co-captains Anthony Karauria and Kieran Short) and I see their backs scored all four tries last week.

Injuries have been a problem for the green and whites.

Coach Will Faulks said there was doubt surrounding Alex Chrisp (flanker) and Todd Harris (front-rower).

“But on the plus side, we have Grant Law and Richard Bayley (locks) available this weekend so we’re OK for forwards.

“We’ve also got a young guy, Henare Walker, in his first year with us. He has played all over the pitch for us and he’ll start at blindside tomorrow.

“We’ve got six games to go. It’s all about putting our heads down and working hard.”

YMP coach Steve Smith hopes to field an unchanged line-up for the first time this season when they play Ngatapa in the first game of Round 2 of premier club rugby at the Oval tomorrow.

“It’s been a long time coming and fingers crossed no one picks up an injury or illness between now and the kick-off,” Smith told The Herald.

He has labelled it “a table-moving game” for both teams.

“I don’t usually take a lot of notice of the points situation, preferring to focus on our performances. But with six games to go before the playoffs, it’s pretty tight at the top, apart from (competition leaders) Waikohu.”

Larsawn Ngatapa are third on 16 points, two ahead of YMP, who are followed by Kevin Hollis Glass Pirates and Enterprise Cars OBM, both on 12.

“A win would give us a little breathing space. More importantly, we want to build on the momentum of the past two games — wins against HSOB and Athletic.

“The firepower is in our backs but the forwards have been working hard in recent weeks. The return of Anaru Poihipi (prop) has added strength and experience to the front row, which we will need against a Ngatapa team who I believe have a strong pack.

“The other good news for us is Willis Tamatea trained this week and is close to making a comeback. There’s still a chance Willis could make the bench tomorrow but I don’t really want to risk him. I’d rather wait another week.”

Senior players in backline

Halfback Brian Whaitiri-White, first five-eighth Willie Brown and skipper and second five Reihana Wyllie are the senior players in the backline, but Smith said Wyllie’s midfield partner Dominic Wilson and wingers Tip Jones and Te Paenga were improving with every game.

“Vaughan White (flanker) and lock Meke Brown, who has recovered from injury, are young players with huge potential.

“Brian is our link between the backs and forwards. He sets the tempo of the game. He’s a good passer of the ball but I’ve been encouraging him to run a bit more and it’s paying off.

“He’s not running for the sake of it but picking the right time. He’s also got a lot of energy and puts his body on the line every week.”

Smith said their ill-discipline was frustrating him.

“I want us to play 80 minutes with 15 players, not 14, not 13,” he said. “We have to take a good look at ourselves. Why is it happening and in what areas?

“Discipline, or lack of it, could decide this game.”

Smith said he had been following Ngatapa’s progress lately.

“As well as a solid pack, they have a strong midfield (co-captains Anthony Karauria and Kieran Short) and I see their backs scored all four tries last week.

Injuries have been a problem for the green and whites.

Coach Will Faulks said there was doubt surrounding Alex Chrisp (flanker) and Todd Harris (front-rower).

“But on the plus side, we have Grant Law and Richard Bayley (locks) available this weekend so we’re OK for forwards.

“We’ve also got a young guy, Henare Walker, in his first year with us. He has played all over the pitch for us and he’ll start at blindside tomorrow.

“We’ve got six games to go. It’s all about putting our heads down and working hard.”

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