Bay-Coast derby big one for both teams

BRING IT ON: Poverty Bay hooker Matekairoa McGuire leads the charge against Hawke’s Bay Saracens. McGuire’s Heartland Championship season is over after he broke the fibula in his right leg against Wanganui on Saturday. Picture by Paul Rickard

SATURDAY'S Heartland Championship game between LeaderBrand Poverty Bay and Ngati Porou East Coast at Rugby Park is shaping up as one of the most crucial in the long history of local derbies.

It is a must-win game for both teams, who are on no points after three rounds.

Although the Bay are bottom on points differential, they will go in as slight favourites, having beaten the Coast in the annual Queen’s Birthday clash at Rugby Park in June, although Bay assistant coach Dwayne Russell doesn’t agree.

“I don’t buy into the favourites tag, especially in a local derby,” Russell said.

“You have to earn the right to win games on the day. As everyone knows, it all starts up front before you get the ball out wide.

“Even though we’re at home, it’s not unusual for the Coast supporters to outnumber us in these games.

“It’s a big game for both teams, and the chance to kickstart our Heartland campaign.”

The Bay will be without hooker Matekairoa McGuire, who broke the fibula in his right leg in the 75th minute of the loss to Wanganui at the weekend, and flanker Leslie Hills, who tore knee ligaments.

“It was a real shame for Matekairoa, who had played well,” Russell said.

“Along with Sione Ngatu (prop) and Tamanui Hill, who took over the hooking role, they set a good platform.

“Matekairoa’s a player who puts everything into it in a tough position.

“He’s our man of steel, a player who chucks his body around for the good of the team.

“He’s got a brute mentality and has come on in leaps and bounds, which cemented the hooking position.

“The good news is the bone has been realigned and now it’s all about recovery.”

Bay physio Mike Evans said that No.8 Siosiua Moala, fullback Ethine Reeves, second five-eighth Anthony Karauria, winger Karl Macpherson and utility back Isaia Vuki should all be available for selection.

Moala (neck), Reeves (shoulder) and Macpherson (neck) missed the trip to Whanganui, while Karauria (ankle) and Vuki (calf) picked up niggling injuries.

“Les is likely to be out for three weeks but we’re hoping the others will be OK,” Evans said.

The return of Moala and Reeves, in particular, will be a huge boost to their side’s chances of victory.

Both are game-breakers, Moala with his powerful runs from the back of the scrum and Reeves with his ability to break the line.

SATURDAY'S Heartland Championship game between LeaderBrand Poverty Bay and Ngati Porou East Coast at Rugby Park is shaping up as one of the most crucial in the long history of local derbies.

It is a must-win game for both teams, who are on no points after three rounds.

Although the Bay are bottom on points differential, they will go in as slight favourites, having beaten the Coast in the annual Queen’s Birthday clash at Rugby Park in June, although Bay assistant coach Dwayne Russell doesn’t agree.

“I don’t buy into the favourites tag, especially in a local derby,” Russell said.

“You have to earn the right to win games on the day. As everyone knows, it all starts up front before you get the ball out wide.

“Even though we’re at home, it’s not unusual for the Coast supporters to outnumber us in these games.

“It’s a big game for both teams, and the chance to kickstart our Heartland campaign.”

The Bay will be without hooker Matekairoa McGuire, who broke the fibula in his right leg in the 75th minute of the loss to Wanganui at the weekend, and flanker Leslie Hills, who tore knee ligaments.

“It was a real shame for Matekairoa, who had played well,” Russell said.

“Along with Sione Ngatu (prop) and Tamanui Hill, who took over the hooking role, they set a good platform.

“Matekairoa’s a player who puts everything into it in a tough position.

“He’s our man of steel, a player who chucks his body around for the good of the team.

“He’s got a brute mentality and has come on in leaps and bounds, which cemented the hooking position.

“The good news is the bone has been realigned and now it’s all about recovery.”

Bay physio Mike Evans said that No.8 Siosiua Moala, fullback Ethine Reeves, second five-eighth Anthony Karauria, winger Karl Macpherson and utility back Isaia Vuki should all be available for selection.

Moala (neck), Reeves (shoulder) and Macpherson (neck) missed the trip to Whanganui, while Karauria (ankle) and Vuki (calf) picked up niggling injuries.

“Les is likely to be out for three weeks but we’re hoping the others will be OK,” Evans said.

The return of Moala and Reeves, in particular, will be a huge boost to their side’s chances of victory.

Both are game-breakers, Moala with his powerful runs from the back of the scrum and Reeves with his ability to break the line.

Para and Ensor have good dilemma

FIVE into four won’t go for Ngati Porou East Coast, and that means a headache for Heartland Championship coaches Troy Para and Wayne Ensor.

Allowed three loan players and one player of origin (PoO) in their 22-man squad, Para and Ensor already have Hone Haerewa as their PoO.

But they must decide whether to stick with Parekura Lalaga (Wellington), Sailosi Vatubua (Auckland) and Te Wehi Wright (Wellington) as their loan players, or bring back Morgan Poi (Wellington lock-cum-loosie).

Blindside flanker Haerewa, the Coast’s player of the year in 2016, No.8 Lalaga, centre Vatubua and winger Wright were outstanding in the Sky Blues’ 32-19 loss to West Coast.

Poi, who missed the game with a finger injury, has been one of the Coast’s most consistent players this season.

On Saturday’s performance, it will be hard to leave Lalaga, Vatubua or Wright out. Lalaga was a key player in a scrum that more than matched their opposites.

Vatubua and Wright caused West Coast problems every time they got their hands on the ball.

“Wayne and I have a difficult decision to make around our loan players, as they have all been playing well,” Para said.

“It’s a good dilemma to have but, nevertheless, a dilemma.”

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