Few certainties in Coast rugby

BREAKOUT: Hamuera Baker, of Hikurangi, in action against Tokomaru Bay United. Baker scored against Hicks Bay last weekend and will look to do the same tomorrow. Picture by Doone Harrison

Someone has to front up to Uawa at home next Saturday.

That and the fact Ruatoria City and Tokomaru Bay United will not feature in the 1 v 4, 2 v 3 semifinals on July 20 are the only certainties in East Coast club rugby heading into Week 14 and the last game of the second round.

Competition leaders Uawa (52 points), who have won 10 of their 11 games, play seventh-placed United (7pts) at Hatea-a-Rangi tomorrow. When these teams last met, in Week 7, Uawa won 83-7 but they are less concerned with running in 13 tries to one — as they did at Uawa Domain on May 18 against United — as they are with a disciplined effort.

“This is an opportunity for our young players to get a start, though we can’t take Tokomaru Bay United lightly,” Uawa coach Tip Nukunuku said.

“They’ll be keen to get a win against us, so we’ve got to be wary. I think our bench will be crucial in this clash.”

The sides’ last meeting at Hatea-a-Rangi ended with a 62-15 win to Uawa on May 19, 2018; United last tasted victory at home against Uawa on June 28, 2014, when the score was 24-21.

United coach Daryl Goldsmith said his team’s scrum had improved in the past four games.

“It was strong against Tokararangi — but they were very good in the backs.

“We need to get past the advantage line tomorrow. I’m hoping our No.8, Tupou Taliauli, and openside flanker, Paulo Tatafu, can help us with that again, in our last game of the season.”

United got their first and only win so far this year a fortnight ago, beating City 43-38 in a 12-try shootout at Whakarua Park in Ruatoria. It’s a result United captain and first five-eighth Matt Marino and his men treasure.

Uawa, with their formidable forward pack and skilful backline, go into this game as favourites. Their hosts know that but have — in the likes of Marino and veteran lock Mike Tiopira — experienced players whose ability to read the game and nouse, money can’t buy.

These guys are in for the long haul. In March, Tokararangi coach Morgan Wirepa Jnr said: “It’s a long season; the second round is where it counts.”

This weekend, his men will make the 50-kilometre trip south from Te Araroa Domain to Hikurangi’s Kahuitara.

The Hone Haerewa-led Tokararangi, who lie fifth on the table with 32 points, trail the fourth-placed Hikurangi by a competition point.

The club competition season is over for the losers of this game.

Wins to Uawa and TVC in Week 14 will mean they host two of Hicks Bay, Hikurangi and Tokararangi in the semifinals.

“Knockout rugby starts a week early for us,” Hikurangi coach Doone Harrison said.

“If we win, we get another chance.”

Since their second-round bye, “The Maunga” (Hikurangi) have drawn 7-7 with TVC at Cape Runaway and beaten Hicks Bay 27-22 win at home at Kahuitara. From the reopening of the ground on June 8 with the 89-5 win against Tokomaru Bay in Week 9 to this point, only Uawa (25-3, Week 10) have beaten Hikurangi at their place.

Lock Te Maera Warmenhoven scored two tries in his MVP (most valuable player) turn for Hikurangi against Hicks Bay last Saturday. He is one of many hard-nosed, tough forwards the hosts will turn loose tomorrow.

The front row of Maui Baker, Putahi Morice and Tahu Walker, who led the scrum-effort against Hicks Bay, are capable.

Hikurangi right wing David Manuel and fullback Hamuera Baker scored tries in Week 13. They may match up against Te Aho Haenga and Jay Hindmarsh tomorrow.

Two weeks ago, Tokararangi fought hard against Uawa before losing 26-19 at Te Araroa Domain and in Week 8 they were pipped 17-15 by TVC.

These games — as opposed to the most recent hit-out, a 31-5 win against Ruatoria City — speak of a team happiest relishing the tackle, the ruck, the maul.

Nor will the hosts tomorrow have forgotten that Tokararangi won the first-round clash 27-26. Tokararangi captain No.8 Hone Haerewa acknowledged the fact: “Yes, we got up against Hikurangi the last time, but they’re a strong club. We won’t underestimate them. They’ve got a solid pack and a backline that we’ll need to watch, too.”

Tihirau Victory Club versus Hicks Bay will be interesting.

Hicks Bay won five games in a row to start the season and are the only team to have beaten Uawa, 36-34, in 2019. While there was an element of hilarity in the last play of that Week 4 game at Wharekahika (Uawa, under the impression that the lead was theirs, cleared for touch, then were told Hicks Bay had won by two points), Hicks Bay — but for two competition points and the 29-19 loss to TVC in Week 7 — would have won the Kath McLean Memorial Trophy as winners of the first round.

That TVC were the team to unseat Hicks Bay at home bears thinking about. They are good to watch without being flashy, the most recent proof being their match-effort against Uawa last week. Twenty minutes into the Week 13 fixture they trailed the defending champions 12-0, but they did not panic. The discipline and basics held up.

The halftime score was 12-8 to Uawa and by game’s end, the visitors had scored three fine tries. Centre Tawhao Stewart, reserve second-five Dion Koopu and lock Hoani Te Moana will be as dangerous at Cape Runaway tomorrow as they proved to be last Saturday.

Their captain, second-five-cum-halfback Moana Mato and first-five Verdon Bartlett run their midfield and outsides with a touch of class, something Hicks Bay co-captains No.8 Frank Taiapa and fullback Sean Murtagh are well aware of.

Season after season, Taiapa plays excellent rugby for Hicks Bay. Veteran halfback Tyrone Delamere — when injury has permitted — has been another fine contributor to a club whose goal is making the semifinals.

Hicks Bay were the only team to win away from home — 64-7 against Tokomaru Bay United, with 10 tries — in Week 1. They beat United by default on May 25 but haven’t tasted victory on the field since the 37-15 win against Ruatoria City in Week 10: their only win in the second round to date.

The job of both teams is to be accurate, remain composed, tackle hard and play the game in opposition territory.

All matches start at 2.30pm.The referees are — Tokomaru Bay United v Uawa: Chris Wanoa. Hikurangi v Tokararangi: Matt Richards. TVC v Hicks Bay: Edward Kawhia.

Someone has to front up to Uawa at home next Saturday.

That and the fact Ruatoria City and Tokomaru Bay United will not feature in the 1 v 4, 2 v 3 semifinals on July 20 are the only certainties in East Coast club rugby heading into Week 14 and the last game of the second round.

Competition leaders Uawa (52 points), who have won 10 of their 11 games, play seventh-placed United (7pts) at Hatea-a-Rangi tomorrow. When these teams last met, in Week 7, Uawa won 83-7 but they are less concerned with running in 13 tries to one — as they did at Uawa Domain on May 18 against United — as they are with a disciplined effort.

“This is an opportunity for our young players to get a start, though we can’t take Tokomaru Bay United lightly,” Uawa coach Tip Nukunuku said.

“They’ll be keen to get a win against us, so we’ve got to be wary. I think our bench will be crucial in this clash.”

The sides’ last meeting at Hatea-a-Rangi ended with a 62-15 win to Uawa on May 19, 2018; United last tasted victory at home against Uawa on June 28, 2014, when the score was 24-21.

United coach Daryl Goldsmith said his team’s scrum had improved in the past four games.

“It was strong against Tokararangi — but they were very good in the backs.

“We need to get past the advantage line tomorrow. I’m hoping our No.8, Tupou Taliauli, and openside flanker, Paulo Tatafu, can help us with that again, in our last game of the season.”

United got their first and only win so far this year a fortnight ago, beating City 43-38 in a 12-try shootout at Whakarua Park in Ruatoria. It’s a result United captain and first five-eighth Matt Marino and his men treasure.

Uawa, with their formidable forward pack and skilful backline, go into this game as favourites. Their hosts know that but have — in the likes of Marino and veteran lock Mike Tiopira — experienced players whose ability to read the game and nouse, money can’t buy.

These guys are in for the long haul. In March, Tokararangi coach Morgan Wirepa Jnr said: “It’s a long season; the second round is where it counts.”

This weekend, his men will make the 50-kilometre trip south from Te Araroa Domain to Hikurangi’s Kahuitara.

The Hone Haerewa-led Tokararangi, who lie fifth on the table with 32 points, trail the fourth-placed Hikurangi by a competition point.

The club competition season is over for the losers of this game.

Wins to Uawa and TVC in Week 14 will mean they host two of Hicks Bay, Hikurangi and Tokararangi in the semifinals.

“Knockout rugby starts a week early for us,” Hikurangi coach Doone Harrison said.

“If we win, we get another chance.”

Since their second-round bye, “The Maunga” (Hikurangi) have drawn 7-7 with TVC at Cape Runaway and beaten Hicks Bay 27-22 win at home at Kahuitara. From the reopening of the ground on June 8 with the 89-5 win against Tokomaru Bay in Week 9 to this point, only Uawa (25-3, Week 10) have beaten Hikurangi at their place.

Lock Te Maera Warmenhoven scored two tries in his MVP (most valuable player) turn for Hikurangi against Hicks Bay last Saturday. He is one of many hard-nosed, tough forwards the hosts will turn loose tomorrow.

The front row of Maui Baker, Putahi Morice and Tahu Walker, who led the scrum-effort against Hicks Bay, are capable.

Hikurangi right wing David Manuel and fullback Hamuera Baker scored tries in Week 13. They may match up against Te Aho Haenga and Jay Hindmarsh tomorrow.

Two weeks ago, Tokararangi fought hard against Uawa before losing 26-19 at Te Araroa Domain and in Week 8 they were pipped 17-15 by TVC.

These games — as opposed to the most recent hit-out, a 31-5 win against Ruatoria City — speak of a team happiest relishing the tackle, the ruck, the maul.

Nor will the hosts tomorrow have forgotten that Tokararangi won the first-round clash 27-26. Tokararangi captain No.8 Hone Haerewa acknowledged the fact: “Yes, we got up against Hikurangi the last time, but they’re a strong club. We won’t underestimate them. They’ve got a solid pack and a backline that we’ll need to watch, too.”

Tihirau Victory Club versus Hicks Bay will be interesting.

Hicks Bay won five games in a row to start the season and are the only team to have beaten Uawa, 36-34, in 2019. While there was an element of hilarity in the last play of that Week 4 game at Wharekahika (Uawa, under the impression that the lead was theirs, cleared for touch, then were told Hicks Bay had won by two points), Hicks Bay — but for two competition points and the 29-19 loss to TVC in Week 7 — would have won the Kath McLean Memorial Trophy as winners of the first round.

That TVC were the team to unseat Hicks Bay at home bears thinking about. They are good to watch without being flashy, the most recent proof being their match-effort against Uawa last week. Twenty minutes into the Week 13 fixture they trailed the defending champions 12-0, but they did not panic. The discipline and basics held up.

The halftime score was 12-8 to Uawa and by game’s end, the visitors had scored three fine tries. Centre Tawhao Stewart, reserve second-five Dion Koopu and lock Hoani Te Moana will be as dangerous at Cape Runaway tomorrow as they proved to be last Saturday.

Their captain, second-five-cum-halfback Moana Mato and first-five Verdon Bartlett run their midfield and outsides with a touch of class, something Hicks Bay co-captains No.8 Frank Taiapa and fullback Sean Murtagh are well aware of.

Season after season, Taiapa plays excellent rugby for Hicks Bay. Veteran halfback Tyrone Delamere — when injury has permitted — has been another fine contributor to a club whose goal is making the semifinals.

Hicks Bay were the only team to win away from home — 64-7 against Tokomaru Bay United, with 10 tries — in Week 1. They beat United by default on May 25 but haven’t tasted victory on the field since the 37-15 win against Ruatoria City in Week 10: their only win in the second round to date.

The job of both teams is to be accurate, remain composed, tackle hard and play the game in opposition territory.

All matches start at 2.30pm.The referees are — Tokomaru Bay United v Uawa: Chris Wanoa. Hikurangi v Tokararangi: Matt Richards. TVC v Hicks Bay: Edward Kawhia.

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