Scene set for classic derby

WATCH OUT POVERTY BAY: Ngati Porou East Coast loan player Sailosi Vatubua capped a powerful game with this try in the Coast's 32-19 Heartland Championship loss to West Coast at Ruatoria on Saturday. Centre Vatubua was the pick of the Coast backs and could prove a handful for Poverty Bay when the teams meet in a derby clash in Gisborne this Saturday. Both sides are searching for their first win of the 2017 competition. Pictures by Paul Rickard
Try!

NGATI Porou East Coast produced their best performance of the season but it wasn’t enough to stop West Coast winning their Heartland Championship rugby game 32-19 at Whakarua Park in Ruatoria on Saturday.

With LeaderBrand Poverty Bay pushing competition leaders Wanganui all the way at Whanganui before going down 25-14, the scene is set for a cracking local derby at Rugby Park this Saturday.

“That was a huge improvement on recent weeks and we are seeing improvements every week,” Coast co-coach Troy Para said after Saturday's loss.

“The only thing is we’re running out of weeks to get that elusive win. But it’s given us (Para and co-coach Wayne Ensor) something to work on for this week.

“Our scrum was rock-solid today and the backs made some good breaks.”

Ensor said it was an encouraging performance.

“But we’re still making too many mistakes at crucial stages in key areas,” he said.

Inspired by captain and openside flanker Paddy Allen, who had a stormer, the Coast closed to within three points, 22-19, with 17 minutes remaining. At that stage they looked the team more likely to win.

Four minutes later, the gap was 10 points. East Coast had the scrum put-in 10 metres from their tryline and, instead of clearing the danger with a kick to touch, they chose to run the ball out.

They lost possession and fullback Nickolas Cumming went in for his second try. It was converted by first five-eighth Tom Reekie, who then sealed the win with a drop goal in the 76th minute.

“It’s frustrating but there’s no point crying over spilt milk,” Para said. "We have to get ourselves up for the Bay, and what a game that’s going to be. It sounds like they had a good game and this one is a chance for one of us to get that first win of the season.”

On a wet and bitterly cold day in Ruatoria, the Coast tight five — Mike Chambers (prop), Kareti Palmer (hooker), Pera Bishop (prop), and locks Manaia Nyman and Rhys Walker — laid a solid platform that augured well for this's weekend derby.

The loose trio of Allen, Hone Haerewa (blindside) and No.8 Parekura Lalaga were outstanding on attack and defence, although Haerewa blotted his copybook when he was sin-binned in the 33rd minute for throwing a punch.

Tighthead prop Bishop capped his first representative game this season with a try, converted by fullback Kris Palmer, as the sides went into the changing sheds with West Coast ahead 15-7.

East Coast centre Sailosi Vatubua, an Auckland loan player who was the pick of the backs, then scored a brilliant try following a slick inside pass from first-five Verdon Bartlett.

Kris Palmer’s conversion narrowed the gap to one point but another try to West Coast put them out to an eight-point margin.

Kareti Palmer then finished off a move involving Lalaga, Vatabua, and left-winger Jayden Milner as the home side refused to lie down.

Another loan player, right-winger Te Wehi Wright (Wellington), did not get on the scoresheet but continued his good form with some scintillating breaks.

NGATI POROU EAST COAST 19 (P Bishop, S Vatubua, Kareti Palmer tries; Kris Palmer 2 con).

West Coast 32 (N Cumming 2, L Babe, S Soper, T Reekie tries; Reekie 2 con, dropped goal).

HT: 15-7 (West Coast).

NGATI Porou East Coast produced their best performance of the season but it wasn’t enough to stop West Coast winning their Heartland Championship rugby game 32-19 at Whakarua Park in Ruatoria on Saturday.

With LeaderBrand Poverty Bay pushing competition leaders Wanganui all the way at Whanganui before going down 25-14, the scene is set for a cracking local derby at Rugby Park this Saturday.

“That was a huge improvement on recent weeks and we are seeing improvements every week,” Coast co-coach Troy Para said after Saturday's loss.

“The only thing is we’re running out of weeks to get that elusive win. But it’s given us (Para and co-coach Wayne Ensor) something to work on for this week.

“Our scrum was rock-solid today and the backs made some good breaks.”

Ensor said it was an encouraging performance.

“But we’re still making too many mistakes at crucial stages in key areas,” he said.

Inspired by captain and openside flanker Paddy Allen, who had a stormer, the Coast closed to within three points, 22-19, with 17 minutes remaining. At that stage they looked the team more likely to win.

Four minutes later, the gap was 10 points. East Coast had the scrum put-in 10 metres from their tryline and, instead of clearing the danger with a kick to touch, they chose to run the ball out.

They lost possession and fullback Nickolas Cumming went in for his second try. It was converted by first five-eighth Tom Reekie, who then sealed the win with a drop goal in the 76th minute.

“It’s frustrating but there’s no point crying over spilt milk,” Para said. "We have to get ourselves up for the Bay, and what a game that’s going to be. It sounds like they had a good game and this one is a chance for one of us to get that first win of the season.”

On a wet and bitterly cold day in Ruatoria, the Coast tight five — Mike Chambers (prop), Kareti Palmer (hooker), Pera Bishop (prop), and locks Manaia Nyman and Rhys Walker — laid a solid platform that augured well for this's weekend derby.

The loose trio of Allen, Hone Haerewa (blindside) and No.8 Parekura Lalaga were outstanding on attack and defence, although Haerewa blotted his copybook when he was sin-binned in the 33rd minute for throwing a punch.

Tighthead prop Bishop capped his first representative game this season with a try, converted by fullback Kris Palmer, as the sides went into the changing sheds with West Coast ahead 15-7.

East Coast centre Sailosi Vatubua, an Auckland loan player who was the pick of the backs, then scored a brilliant try following a slick inside pass from first-five Verdon Bartlett.

Kris Palmer’s conversion narrowed the gap to one point but another try to West Coast put them out to an eight-point margin.

Kareti Palmer then finished off a move involving Lalaga, Vatabua, and left-winger Jayden Milner as the home side refused to lie down.

Another loan player, right-winger Te Wehi Wright (Wellington), did not get on the scoresheet but continued his good form with some scintillating breaks.

NGATI POROU EAST COAST 19 (P Bishop, S Vatubua, Kareti Palmer tries; Kris Palmer 2 con).

West Coast 32 (N Cumming 2, L Babe, S Soper, T Reekie tries; Reekie 2 con, dropped goal).

HT: 15-7 (West Coast).

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