Looking to finish with a bang

Semifinalists play on

Semifinalists play on

Making a break: Hicks Bay captain and No.8 Frank Taiapa takes the ball from the back of the scrum as Ruatoria City halfback CJ Fox-Campbell and referee Jimmy Green (left) watch closely. Hicks Bay play TVC at Wharekahika, and City play Waiapu at Whakarua Park, Ruatoria, on Saturday. Picture by Doone Harrison

Can they go out with a bang?

For Ruatoria City, Hicks Bay and Waiapu, the 2018 season in East Coast club rugby ends this Saturday; for semifinalists Hikurangi, Uawa, Tihirau Victory Club, Tokararangi, life will go on.

In Week 14, the second round will close with 1 away to 4 (Kath McLean Memorial Trophy Round 1 winners Hikurangi travel to Te Araroa Domain for the rematch with Tokararangi), 6 at home to 3 (Hicks Bay signing off against 2017 champions Tihirau Victory Club at Wharekahika) and 5 hosting 7 (City v Waiapu on Whakarua Park). The games at Te Araroa and Ruatoria kick off at 2.30pm while the Hicks Bay-TVC clash has a 3pm start.

Uawa and Hikurangi both had 23 competition points at the end of Week 13. Hikurangi have won five, lost one in Round 2 while Uawa have won four, lost one and drawn one (10-all with Tihirau Victory Club last Saturday). Uawa will take five competition points — and now have 28 second-round competition points — for a 28-0 default victory over Tokomaru Bay United in Week 14. Overall leaders Hikurangi (54pts) beat Uawa 23-20 in Round 2. A four-try bonus-point win against Tokararangi would therefore see them claim the Jury Harrison Memorial Trophy.

Irrespective of other results, Tokararangi’s second-round loss to TVC means they will go into next week’s semifinals as team No.4. If Tokararangi beat Hikurangi, they will play Uawa in Tolaga Bay and Hikurangi will host TVC. If Tokararangi lose this Saturday, they will face Hikurangi again, in Ruatoria.

Home advantage needs to kick in for Tokararangi

Home advantage needs to kick in for Tokararangi.

If the Morgan Wirepa Jnr-coached Tokararangi were to concede four tries in a loss to Hikurangi, they will face “The Maunga” again — this time at Whakarua Park — next week in the 1 v 4 semifinal. That would be a daunting prospect.

But these machinations can wait: Week 14, for all teams, is about preparing well before playing well, creating and taking opportunities.

A bonus-point win might still see Tokararangi pitted against Hikurangi in the 2 v 3 semifinal; Hikurangi as the second-placed team would still host the fixture.

Tokararangi have won eight of 13 games; Hikurangi 11 from 13. Hikurangi are coming off a 41-12 win against Hicks Bay in Ruatoria, and last tasted defeat a fortnight ago at the hands of TVC at Cape Runaway. Defending champions TVC won that game 20-10. In the first round, Uawa — who trailed Doone Harrison’s Hikurangi by eight points at the break — rallied to beat the home team 17-15 on fulltime.

But aside from that, Hikurangi have ruled the roost, scoring on average 37 points a game overall. In the first round, they had the best defensive record of any team — conceding 10 points on average — yet interestingly, TVC have mirrored their defensive effort in Round 2 — 73 points in six games.

The Maunga have a no-nonsense skipper in hooker Ngarimu Parata

The Maunga have a no-nonsense skipper in hooker Ngarimu Parata.

“As there was a double-header at Whakarua Park last weekend, we got to watch a bit of the Toka-City game,” he said.

“We need to be more clinical — work on executing the small things well.”

Hikurangi have a scrum as good as any — all teams in East Coast club rugby pride themselves on holding up well in that area — and all-round forwards such as Pakanui Webb, who played lock last week, are also valuable at the lineout. Te Rangi Matanuku Parata is another of those. He and the likes of Rhys Walker are hard-nosed competitors — exactly what teams need to beat Tokararangi.

Hikurangi won the Week 7 game against Tokararangi 29-19, four tries to three; the Maunga’s half-time lead was 17-7.

Competition’s leading pointscorer — Te Aho Matua Morice, with 110 points — will be at fullback

The visitors on Saturday will have the competition’s leading pointscorer — Te Aho Matua Morice, with 110 points — at fullback. Yet the home team will have a stepper, in first-five Pamona Samupo, and a halfback — Te Aho Haenga — who have scored 11 and 10 tries respectively.

Tokararangi were well-served by Te Kooti Kingi at scrumhalf last week with the experience and strength of No.8 Hone Haerewa also evident in what was a hard-fought 15-14 win against City in Ruatoria — a game City had to win to keep their season alive — but Tokararangi came through it. Their left wing Teina Potae scored the match-winning try — his sixth try of 2018 — in the 76th minute for victory.

“We are where we want to be and couldn’t change anything if we wanted to,” Tokararangi player-coach Morgan Wirepa Jnr said.

“We’ll get stuck into it against whoever, wherever. We’ve always been that way inclined.”

Every player should play the last game of the season as if it’s the last one he’ll ever play.

The reason? It’s often the way things pan out. East Coast club rugby is made up of families whose loyalties run from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay, all points within — and beyond. Hicks Bay is no exception.

The Warren Henderson-coached Hicks Bay beat City 14-5 at Whakarua Park in Week 3, and a fortnight later performed strongly again, against Waiapu, to seize the day 31-7. Player-coach and second-five Henderson and blindside flanker-cum-halfback Tyrone Delamere were two of the visitors’ best that day, both scoring memorable tries.

Hicks Bay are well led by No.8 Frank Taiapa

Delamere went even one better than that, with a try in each half. Hicks Bay are well led by No.8 Frank Taiapa. Taiapa is an excellent leader, unassuming but incredibly quick to size up opportunities to run. He carries the ball to great effect and was in sublime form early in the season, scoring a magical try in the season-opener against United and the same thing against City in Week 3.

Henderson remains a fair second-five and (as has been the case with other coaches) has been prepared to put the boots on himself.

He said: “Just finishing the season this weekend is the goal. We want our pack to create ‘go-forward ball’ and have our backs try a few things.”

TVC began the season with not so much a hiss and a roar as a heart-stopper: they beat Tokararangi 36-33 at Te Araroa Domain. They got another fright at home in the first round — a 27-all draw against City at Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa, that served to make the champions sit bolt upright.

The Victory Club have their weapons: veteran first-five Verdon Bartlett can run, and does, to real effect. He has good pace and strength, while outside him captain and second-five Moana Mato reads the game well. He has always been a very good distributor of the ball.

Their forward platform is solid, with tighthead prop Rawiri Waititi and powerful No.8 Solomon Vaka to the fore. Waititi anchors the front row at scrum-time; Vaka draws and often goes through would-be tacklers.

Lively halfback Tevita Ahoafi was the man, however, whose drop goal drew TVC level — 10-all — with Uawa in Week 13. He is just as capable of stealing a try, although he will be just one of 15 that Hicks Bay will have to deal with, at any time.

It hasn't been easy

It hasn’t been easy.

Ruatoria City and Waiapu have shown real character and reserves of courage in 2018. While the second-round race for the Jury Harrison Memorial Trophy will be decided at Te Araroa — final placings for the bottom 4 teams, semifinal match-ups and venues also to be known by 5pm this Saturday — City versus Waiapu may outdo all else for intensity. On that, their captains agree.

“We have finishers who’ve scored some super tries and we’re looking to end the season on a high,” City tighthead prop Tim Barbarich said.

“Our focus is to get our set-piece play right in the forwards and just let the backs open up.”

Waiapu loosehead prop Frank Manuel expects the hosts to bring immense pressure to bear on his men.

This is Waiapu’s answer: “We are going to hammer anyone not wearing an orange and black jersey.”

Ruatoria City beat Waiapu 31-0 at George Nepia Memorial Park in the last game of the first round. Only a week after the Manuel-led team had outgunned Tokomaru Bay United at Hatea-a-Rangi by eight tries to four, final score, 52-22. It was end-to-end running rugby and remains Waiapu’s only win of the season.

True-hearted players have produced stirring performances

True-hearted players from both clubs have produced stirring performances: Tripoli Poi scored a hat-trick in Waiapu’s win against United. Halfback CJ Fox-Campbell converted all seven of his team’s tries at home as his City crew tasted victory for the first time in 2018, 49-31, in Week 5.

Barbarich, specialist prop Pera Bishop and No.8 Te Teira Maxwell have performed well against all opposition. Captain Barbarich has brought rugged versatility to the front, second and back rows. And although Hikurangi took out the Ruatoria derby 22-8 on May 26, underdogs City were 8-5 up at the break in what would have been the upset of the year.

City and Waiapu are born fighters. The former want to end the season well at home; the latter have 10 points overall. Tokomaru Bay United had 12 points before they withdrew from the competition before Week 12. If Saturday’s match is a draw, Waiapu would have tied with United but a win with or without a bonus point would have them finish the season seventh.

The referees for this weekend are Harawira Matahiki (Tokararangi v Hikurangi, Te Araroa, 2.30pm), Matt Richards (Hicks Bay v Tihirau Victory Club, Wharekahika, 3pm) and Whiti Timutimu (Ruatoria City v Waiapu, Whakarua Park, 2.30pm).

Can they go out with a bang?

For Ruatoria City, Hicks Bay and Waiapu, the 2018 season in East Coast club rugby ends this Saturday; for semifinalists Hikurangi, Uawa, Tihirau Victory Club, Tokararangi, life will go on.

In Week 14, the second round will close with 1 away to 4 (Kath McLean Memorial Trophy Round 1 winners Hikurangi travel to Te Araroa Domain for the rematch with Tokararangi), 6 at home to 3 (Hicks Bay signing off against 2017 champions Tihirau Victory Club at Wharekahika) and 5 hosting 7 (City v Waiapu on Whakarua Park). The games at Te Araroa and Ruatoria kick off at 2.30pm while the Hicks Bay-TVC clash has a 3pm start.

Uawa and Hikurangi both had 23 competition points at the end of Week 13. Hikurangi have won five, lost one in Round 2 while Uawa have won four, lost one and drawn one (10-all with Tihirau Victory Club last Saturday). Uawa will take five competition points — and now have 28 second-round competition points — for a 28-0 default victory over Tokomaru Bay United in Week 14. Overall leaders Hikurangi (54pts) beat Uawa 23-20 in Round 2. A four-try bonus-point win against Tokararangi would therefore see them claim the Jury Harrison Memorial Trophy.

Irrespective of other results, Tokararangi’s second-round loss to TVC means they will go into next week’s semifinals as team No.4. If Tokararangi beat Hikurangi, they will play Uawa in Tolaga Bay and Hikurangi will host TVC. If Tokararangi lose this Saturday, they will face Hikurangi again, in Ruatoria.

Home advantage needs to kick in for Tokararangi

Home advantage needs to kick in for Tokararangi.

If the Morgan Wirepa Jnr-coached Tokararangi were to concede four tries in a loss to Hikurangi, they will face “The Maunga” again — this time at Whakarua Park — next week in the 1 v 4 semifinal. That would be a daunting prospect.

But these machinations can wait: Week 14, for all teams, is about preparing well before playing well, creating and taking opportunities.

A bonus-point win might still see Tokararangi pitted against Hikurangi in the 2 v 3 semifinal; Hikurangi as the second-placed team would still host the fixture.

Tokararangi have won eight of 13 games; Hikurangi 11 from 13. Hikurangi are coming off a 41-12 win against Hicks Bay in Ruatoria, and last tasted defeat a fortnight ago at the hands of TVC at Cape Runaway. Defending champions TVC won that game 20-10. In the first round, Uawa — who trailed Doone Harrison’s Hikurangi by eight points at the break — rallied to beat the home team 17-15 on fulltime.

But aside from that, Hikurangi have ruled the roost, scoring on average 37 points a game overall. In the first round, they had the best defensive record of any team — conceding 10 points on average — yet interestingly, TVC have mirrored their defensive effort in Round 2 — 73 points in six games.

The Maunga have a no-nonsense skipper in hooker Ngarimu Parata

The Maunga have a no-nonsense skipper in hooker Ngarimu Parata.

“As there was a double-header at Whakarua Park last weekend, we got to watch a bit of the Toka-City game,” he said.

“We need to be more clinical — work on executing the small things well.”

Hikurangi have a scrum as good as any — all teams in East Coast club rugby pride themselves on holding up well in that area — and all-round forwards such as Pakanui Webb, who played lock last week, are also valuable at the lineout. Te Rangi Matanuku Parata is another of those. He and the likes of Rhys Walker are hard-nosed competitors — exactly what teams need to beat Tokararangi.

Hikurangi won the Week 7 game against Tokararangi 29-19, four tries to three; the Maunga’s half-time lead was 17-7.

Competition’s leading pointscorer — Te Aho Matua Morice, with 110 points — will be at fullback

The visitors on Saturday will have the competition’s leading pointscorer — Te Aho Matua Morice, with 110 points — at fullback. Yet the home team will have a stepper, in first-five Pamona Samupo, and a halfback — Te Aho Haenga — who have scored 11 and 10 tries respectively.

Tokararangi were well-served by Te Kooti Kingi at scrumhalf last week with the experience and strength of No.8 Hone Haerewa also evident in what was a hard-fought 15-14 win against City in Ruatoria — a game City had to win to keep their season alive — but Tokararangi came through it. Their left wing Teina Potae scored the match-winning try — his sixth try of 2018 — in the 76th minute for victory.

“We are where we want to be and couldn’t change anything if we wanted to,” Tokararangi player-coach Morgan Wirepa Jnr said.

“We’ll get stuck into it against whoever, wherever. We’ve always been that way inclined.”

Every player should play the last game of the season as if it’s the last one he’ll ever play.

The reason? It’s often the way things pan out. East Coast club rugby is made up of families whose loyalties run from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay, all points within — and beyond. Hicks Bay is no exception.

The Warren Henderson-coached Hicks Bay beat City 14-5 at Whakarua Park in Week 3, and a fortnight later performed strongly again, against Waiapu, to seize the day 31-7. Player-coach and second-five Henderson and blindside flanker-cum-halfback Tyrone Delamere were two of the visitors’ best that day, both scoring memorable tries.

Hicks Bay are well led by No.8 Frank Taiapa

Delamere went even one better than that, with a try in each half. Hicks Bay are well led by No.8 Frank Taiapa. Taiapa is an excellent leader, unassuming but incredibly quick to size up opportunities to run. He carries the ball to great effect and was in sublime form early in the season, scoring a magical try in the season-opener against United and the same thing against City in Week 3.

Henderson remains a fair second-five and (as has been the case with other coaches) has been prepared to put the boots on himself.

He said: “Just finishing the season this weekend is the goal. We want our pack to create ‘go-forward ball’ and have our backs try a few things.”

TVC began the season with not so much a hiss and a roar as a heart-stopper: they beat Tokararangi 36-33 at Te Araroa Domain. They got another fright at home in the first round — a 27-all draw against City at Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa, that served to make the champions sit bolt upright.

The Victory Club have their weapons: veteran first-five Verdon Bartlett can run, and does, to real effect. He has good pace and strength, while outside him captain and second-five Moana Mato reads the game well. He has always been a very good distributor of the ball.

Their forward platform is solid, with tighthead prop Rawiri Waititi and powerful No.8 Solomon Vaka to the fore. Waititi anchors the front row at scrum-time; Vaka draws and often goes through would-be tacklers.

Lively halfback Tevita Ahoafi was the man, however, whose drop goal drew TVC level — 10-all — with Uawa in Week 13. He is just as capable of stealing a try, although he will be just one of 15 that Hicks Bay will have to deal with, at any time.

It hasn't been easy

It hasn’t been easy.

Ruatoria City and Waiapu have shown real character and reserves of courage in 2018. While the second-round race for the Jury Harrison Memorial Trophy will be decided at Te Araroa — final placings for the bottom 4 teams, semifinal match-ups and venues also to be known by 5pm this Saturday — City versus Waiapu may outdo all else for intensity. On that, their captains agree.

“We have finishers who’ve scored some super tries and we’re looking to end the season on a high,” City tighthead prop Tim Barbarich said.

“Our focus is to get our set-piece play right in the forwards and just let the backs open up.”

Waiapu loosehead prop Frank Manuel expects the hosts to bring immense pressure to bear on his men.

This is Waiapu’s answer: “We are going to hammer anyone not wearing an orange and black jersey.”

Ruatoria City beat Waiapu 31-0 at George Nepia Memorial Park in the last game of the first round. Only a week after the Manuel-led team had outgunned Tokomaru Bay United at Hatea-a-Rangi by eight tries to four, final score, 52-22. It was end-to-end running rugby and remains Waiapu’s only win of the season.

True-hearted players have produced stirring performances

True-hearted players from both clubs have produced stirring performances: Tripoli Poi scored a hat-trick in Waiapu’s win against United. Halfback CJ Fox-Campbell converted all seven of his team’s tries at home as his City crew tasted victory for the first time in 2018, 49-31, in Week 5.

Barbarich, specialist prop Pera Bishop and No.8 Te Teira Maxwell have performed well against all opposition. Captain Barbarich has brought rugged versatility to the front, second and back rows. And although Hikurangi took out the Ruatoria derby 22-8 on May 26, underdogs City were 8-5 up at the break in what would have been the upset of the year.

City and Waiapu are born fighters. The former want to end the season well at home; the latter have 10 points overall. Tokomaru Bay United had 12 points before they withdrew from the competition before Week 12. If Saturday’s match is a draw, Waiapu would have tied with United but a win with or without a bonus point would have them finish the season seventh.

The referees for this weekend are Harawira Matahiki (Tokararangi v Hikurangi, Te Araroa, 2.30pm), Matt Richards (Hicks Bay v Tihirau Victory Club, Wharekahika, 3pm) and Whiti Timutimu (Ruatoria City v Waiapu, Whakarua Park, 2.30pm).

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    ​​If the council does proceed with an online voting option for the 2019 election, will you likely vote online or by ballot paper?