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HSOB ready for the challenge

With the current turmoil of the country being placed back into Covid-19 restrictions, it will be nice to get back to a semblance of normality with some premier league rugby this weekend.

The Civil Project Solutions Premier Grade is all go for Saturday, with measures in place should Alert Level 2 restrictions be extended.

Last week saw some nail-biting games, with two having final-minutes heroics to win the game.

Let’s hope it’s more of the same this weekend and the forecast for good weather provides the backdrop for expansive running rugby.

It’s a doubleheader at the Oval on Saturday as East Coast Farm Vets YMP take on Kevin Hollis Glass Pirates while Contract Consultants HSOB are at home against GT Shearing Waikohu. Enterprise Cars OBM are away this weekend against Larsawn Ngatapa at the Patutahi Domain.

The game of the draw is HSOB v Waikohu. With HSOB in fourth position, they need to continue their good run to secure themselves a semi-final position.

It’s a tough ask for the HSOB side who are coming up against the competition leaders Waikohu, who continue to show they are the team to beat this season.

As the table stands the game is a preview of the semi-final, and it will be a good test of the teams.

Waikohu isn’t infallible; YMP’s win over them two weeks ago showed that the team isn’t bulletproof.

HSOB coach Danny Boyle said his team were looking forward to the battle.

“We really think that we have been improving every game and if we make the top four, we could be a real threat to the other teams.”

His team knew the level they needed to be at to come out on top, they just needed to put themselves in the position to win, he said.

“We know playing Waikohu is a tough game . . . we need to stick to our gameplan and we need to start well.”

YMP take on Pirates

On the other side of the Oval, YMP take on Pirates.

Pirates have been struggling to find the form to win games this season but they’re not down and out.

The team has lost several very close games and their win-loss record doesn’t accurately reflect the threat they pose to teams vying for semi-final spots.

Unfortunately for Pirates their hopes to make the playoffs were dashed in the final five minutes of their game last week, when OBM ran in two tries into a strong headwind to win by one point.

Pirates coach Willie Waitoa said the team were building and wanting to finish on the front foot this season as they looked to the future.

He saw strong potential in his team going forward and hoped the development of some younger players would see them be a force to be reckoned with in the 2021 season.

“We have a good core of players — I believe we have the best forward and the best back in the competition.”

OBM were looking to keep the “same character that got us through last week”, said their coach Trevor Crosby as they take on Ngatapa this weekend.

Crosby said the team expected Ngatapa to come out strong with their big forward pack, and they had to be ready to meet them upfront.

He believed OBM had an advantage with their pace out wide and wanted to exploit it, but they needed big games out of their key playmakers to come out on top against a strong Ngatapa team.

“We have to be disciplined all over the field to be competitive, no 50/50 passes, and taking all of our opportunities.”

Ngatapa looking to bounce back

Ngatapa were looking to bounce back after two loses in a row, but they were close calls.

The side went down against Waikohu last weekend after a very strong performance, before a lapse in pressure in the final minutes of the game saw them concede a penalty conversion and lose their one-point lead.

Ngatapa coach Stephen Hickey said the team wanted to get back to their winning ways and were looking forward to taking the field this weekend.

“We know we’re playing good rugby, we just have to cement our style of play.

“We’ve got to operate upfront before you earn the right to get the ball to the backs.”

He said the uncertainty of the week hadn’t got to the team, who were still preparing for this weekend, “whatever that looks like”.

The premier and senior A games were meant to be curtain-raised by a legends game between OBM and Ngatapa, but it has been postponed.

Organiser Tom Crosby said legends were more about comradery and getting together with a group of old mates who have a passion for rugby, rather than the game itself.

He said to be a legend you didn’t have to be a superstar player, you just had to be over 35 years old and keen to get back out on the field for your club.

“The rugby is a byproduct . . . it’s the guys who want to put some boots on, have a run-around and take a few hits.”

Ngati Porou legend Brent “Cowboy” Ingram and current OBM coach Trevor Crosby were among the legends scheduled to play.

Standings:

WAIKOHU 35 (7 wins, 1 loss, 7 bonus points); YMP 31 (6W, 2L, 7BP); NGATAPA 25 (5W, 2L, 5BP); HSOB 18 (3W, 5L, 6BP); OBM 12 (2W, 6L, 4BP); PIRATES 7 (1W, 7L, 3BP).

Match Details:

Ngatapa v OBM, Patutahi Domain, 2:45pm. Referee, Keelyn Smith.

Pirates v YMP, the Oval field 1, 2:45pm. Referee, Mark Greene.

HSOB v Waikohu, the Oval field 2, 2:45pm. Referee, Isaac Hughes.

TAG-TEAM tackle: YMP’s second-five-eighth Louis Devery makes a strong run as defenders close in during their win over HSOB last weekend. Picture by Paul Rickard