Gritty Wairoa will keep it close

Just call it the bash at the beach.

Uawa versus Wairoa at the Domain in Tolaga Bay tomorrow will start at 2.30pm.

As was the case in 2017, the visitors will field an experienced unit who relish hard work and have sufficient grit to keep the scores close. Uawa won last year’s clash 15-8, having led 10-5 at halftime.

Uawa had gone from one extreme to the other in terms of a margin of victory during the previous fortnight. In Game 1 they had survived the challenge of beaten Poverty Bay grand finalists Waikohu with a 5-5 draw.

The second defence had been a 32-0 win against Ruatoria.

The last meeting between tomorrow’s protagonists, on September 10, 2017, was a torrid affair in its physicality. A super-capable Uawa team with firepower everywhere were made to work very hard. Then-Wairoa captain Brendon Bishop’s crew made their tackles. They played with urgency, as they knew they must.

Bishop’s successor has, a year on, moved in one spot — from first five-eighth to halfback. Tione Hubbard is supremely skilful and quick. His vice-captain Jesse Kapene is a powerful all-round forward, and hooker Wayne Hema (Bishop’s Barry Cup vice-captain) led Tapuae with distinction in extraordinary circumstances at the end of the club season.

Uawa may have more firepower to come than can yet be confirmed and last week’s 31-17 win against Ruatoria was no mismatch. Ruatoria captain Tim Barbarich and company didn’t play conservatively; they attacked. They ran the ball. Pera Bishop, Barbarich and Scott McKinley all scored tries and the home team’s lead was but five points (score 17-12 to Uawa) 56 minutes into the game.

The Mac Kapene-coached Wairoa must contest in every area they can. Laman Davies is a magnificent scrummager at loosehead prop. The visitors’ aim at set-piece must be to unsettle a well-organised unit, make things scrappy. Loose ball isn’t a mere bonus. Against the holders of three years and counting, loose ball possession is gold.

In the backs, Uawa right wing Tipene Meihana is also a player for Barry Cup followers to watch out for.

Uawa captain and lock Scott Lasenby has not forgotten last year’s rough-house encounter. He leads by example and would only say: “Wairoa are always tough challengers, but the boys are feeling good. We’re ready.”

All of Wairoa knows that a very big rugby moment has arrived.

“The Barry Cup — we could go there with a team of All Blacks and it would still be hard to win it,” Mac Kapene said.

“Everyone’s trying to get the young players in our team to understand what it’s all about. The old people are hoping and wanting the young fellows to win it — not so much for them, but for the community as a whole.”

Uawa have the two biggest trophies going in East Coast rugby: the Barry Cup, icon of sub-union supremacy, and the Rangiora Keelan Memorial Shield as club champions.

They are a grounded side. They enjoy their rugby and are good to watch. And with a predicted high of 14 degrees on a firm Domain surface, both they and Uawa will be well worth watching.

The officials are Oliver Holst (referee, Poverty Bay), Victor Herbert (assistant referee No.1, East Coast) and Neville Barwick (AR2, Poverty Bay).

Just call it the bash at the beach.

Uawa versus Wairoa at the Domain in Tolaga Bay tomorrow will start at 2.30pm.

As was the case in 2017, the visitors will field an experienced unit who relish hard work and have sufficient grit to keep the scores close. Uawa won last year’s clash 15-8, having led 10-5 at halftime.

Uawa had gone from one extreme to the other in terms of a margin of victory during the previous fortnight. In Game 1 they had survived the challenge of beaten Poverty Bay grand finalists Waikohu with a 5-5 draw.

The second defence had been a 32-0 win against Ruatoria.

The last meeting between tomorrow’s protagonists, on September 10, 2017, was a torrid affair in its physicality. A super-capable Uawa team with firepower everywhere were made to work very hard. Then-Wairoa captain Brendon Bishop’s crew made their tackles. They played with urgency, as they knew they must.

Bishop’s successor has, a year on, moved in one spot — from first five-eighth to halfback. Tione Hubbard is supremely skilful and quick. His vice-captain Jesse Kapene is a powerful all-round forward, and hooker Wayne Hema (Bishop’s Barry Cup vice-captain) led Tapuae with distinction in extraordinary circumstances at the end of the club season.

Uawa may have more firepower to come than can yet be confirmed and last week’s 31-17 win against Ruatoria was no mismatch. Ruatoria captain Tim Barbarich and company didn’t play conservatively; they attacked. They ran the ball. Pera Bishop, Barbarich and Scott McKinley all scored tries and the home team’s lead was but five points (score 17-12 to Uawa) 56 minutes into the game.

The Mac Kapene-coached Wairoa must contest in every area they can. Laman Davies is a magnificent scrummager at loosehead prop. The visitors’ aim at set-piece must be to unsettle a well-organised unit, make things scrappy. Loose ball isn’t a mere bonus. Against the holders of three years and counting, loose ball possession is gold.

In the backs, Uawa right wing Tipene Meihana is also a player for Barry Cup followers to watch out for.

Uawa captain and lock Scott Lasenby has not forgotten last year’s rough-house encounter. He leads by example and would only say: “Wairoa are always tough challengers, but the boys are feeling good. We’re ready.”

All of Wairoa knows that a very big rugby moment has arrived.

“The Barry Cup — we could go there with a team of All Blacks and it would still be hard to win it,” Mac Kapene said.

“Everyone’s trying to get the young players in our team to understand what it’s all about. The old people are hoping and wanting the young fellows to win it — not so much for them, but for the community as a whole.”

Uawa have the two biggest trophies going in East Coast rugby: the Barry Cup, icon of sub-union supremacy, and the Rangiora Keelan Memorial Shield as club champions.

They are a grounded side. They enjoy their rugby and are good to watch. And with a predicted high of 14 degrees on a firm Domain surface, both they and Uawa will be well worth watching.

The officials are Oliver Holst (referee, Poverty Bay), Victor Herbert (assistant referee No.1, East Coast) and Neville Barwick (AR2, Poverty Bay).

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