Hicks Bay is back on top
Uawa claimed the Kath McLean Memorial Trophy as winners of the first round of East Coast club rugby three weeks ago, yet, as the Round 2 race for the Jury Harrison Memorial Trophy resumes tomorrow, Hicks Bay are back at the top.
Players from all seven clubs will be keen to take the good form shown by many in Ngati Porou East Coast’s stout-hearted showing against Poverty Bay last weekend into the business end of the season.
Their 29-19 loss to Tihirau Victory Club at Wharekahika may have brought hitherto unbeaten Hicks Bay’s six-game winning streak to an end on May 18, but a win by default v Tokomaru Bay and then the representative fixture have seen the early pace-setters regain first placing. Hicks Bay have 30 points, with TVC (28pts) and Uawa (27) in hot pursuit and the ever-dangerous Hikurangi (21) fourth on the ladder. After them come Tokararangi (16), Ruatoria City (six pts) and Tokomaru Bay United (one point).
United will feature in what promises to be an emotion-charged match at Kahuitara, which is now Hikurangi’s home ground, on the occasion of the host’s 100th anniversary. Hikurangi coach Doone Harrison spoke of the game, and the event, with feeling: “Kahuitara is the name of the whanau (family) farm — Hikurangi rugby and hockey used to play there from the 1940s through to the late 1970s — so we’ll be back at our old stomping ground.”
Hikurangi will be led by Te Kaiwi Parata in the captain’s 100th game for the historic club; a big crowd is expected.
The Daryl Goldsmith-Kuru Gray-coached United have yet to win a game and theirs is the toughest assignment of Week 9 . . . but not far behind that will be Ruatoria City’s road game against Uawa.
“It’s going to be a tough contest up front,” said Uawa captain lock Scott Lasenby. “They always play the whole 80 minutes with a lot of passion.”
Uawa, the defending champions and holders of the Rangiora Keelan Memorial Shield, have shown signs of the superb form with which they began and finished their 2018 campaign.
City are coming off a 36-14 loss to Hikurangi in the derby rematch and are well aware of the need to start well at the Domain tomorrow.
“We tend to start well but I’d love to see a complete performance tomorrow,” said City captain Tim Barbarich. “That means doing the job at setpiece and carrying the ball well . . . and backs directing play and making the most of the chances they get.”
Hicks Bay v Tokararangi is a tough game to call.
Hicks Bay won the first-round encounter 35-15 at Te Araroa, but Tokararangi have shown great improvement. Coach, the recently-retired Morgan Wirepa junior, has invested time and trust in a fine young captain, Hone Haerewa, and that show of faith has been rewarded. Haerewa played well for the Coast last weekend and brings the same commitment to Tokararangi’s cause. Wily Hicks Bay, with three of the best in terms of leaders — Frank Taiapa, Sean Murtagh, Tyrone Delamare — on hand, can expect to play well at home.