The last time Poverty Bay played West Coast in rugby’s Heartland Championship, the Bay lost a heartbreaker, 31-30.
That game last year still irks Poverty Bay captain Ken Houkamau because he felt they should have won.
Poverty Bay gave up a lead in the 77th minute and then missed a kick at goal that might have rescued them.
“It’s etched in my mind. I was really disappointed. We gave it away,” Houkamau said.
Tomorrow they play again in Greymouth, this time in a Lochore Cup semifinal.
Houkamau said the side were heading into the fixture with confidence.
“It’s finals rugby. We’re going to leave it all out on the paddock. There’s no tomorrow if we lose and we want to finish the season on a high.”
Contract Consultants Poverty Bay have had a season where they’ve looked promising but that has been punctuated by costly lapses during games, and injuries preventing them from fielding settled line-ups.
They were eighth on the points table — still in the hunt for the Lochore Cup involving the teams ranked fifth to eighth, but they looked capable of chalking up more wins in the regular season.
Houkamau said their first half against Buller last week was the best rugby they had played this year. Things then went awry when openside flanker Adrian Wyrill was sin-binned and they went on to lose 36-26.
Coach Tom Cairns said they needed to be consistent.
“The team have had an up-and-down season, with injuries and players unavailable at crucial times playing a part.
“We are pleased that even in the games we have lost we have managed to accumulate points and put ourselves in competitive positions where we have had opportunities to win games.”
Poverty Bay are going into the semifinal without one of their best players, Wyrill, who has injured his arm. Will Bolingford will start in his place. Prop Jody Allen is also out with a hamstring niggle and Campbell Chrisp comes into the starting line-up.
Gisborne Boys’ High School first 15 captain Jordan McFarlane has been picked in the reserves, providing front-row cover.
Ethine Reeves is back at centre and loose forwards Morgan Reedy and Nicolas Carrizo come on to the bench.
The Coast, like Poverty Bay, have been in some close matches this year.
Among their results are a 43-41 win against Mid Canterbury, an 18-17 win against North Otago, a 21-19 win against Ngati Porou East Coast and a 27-24 victory over South Canterbury.
They had more wins than fourth-placed Wanganui but fewer bonus points, placing them fifth on the championship ladder.
Poverty Bay’s results include a 17-15 win against 2018 champions Thames Valley, a 34-30 loss to North Otago and a 24-20 victory over Ngati Porou East Coast.
Poverty Bay have also consistently scored about 30 points in their losses this season.
Backs coach Miah Nikora said he wanted the players to express themselves.
“We have played some good rugby this year and I feel that we haven’t put a complete performance together. We are hoping we can do that tomorrow.”
Defence coach Mark Jefferson said it had been “a great voyage with a group of homegrown players who have represented the Tairawhiti region really well”.
Poverty Bay have had a slight edge over West Coast in their most recent clashes.
Before the tight 2018 loss, they won 36-19 in Gisborne in 2017 and a year earlier they won 62-28 in Greymouth.
Poverty Bay had a 29-20 win in Gisborne in 2014 and West Coast had a 30-14 win at Greymouth in 2013.
The West Coast side includes former Poverty Bay player Kahu Tamatea, who has been named to start at first five-eighth.
POVERTY BAY: Kelvin Smith, Matt Raleigh, Ethine Reeves, Tane McGuire, Andrew Tauatevalu, Beaudein Waaka, Mario Counsell, Tamanui Hill, Will Bolingford, Quade Tapsell, Gabe Te Kani, Ken Houkamau (c), Campbell Chrisp, Rikki Terekia, Toru Noanoa.
Reserves: Jordan McFarlane, Semisi Akana, Morgan Reedy, Jake Holmes, Jacobn Leaf, Nicolas Carrizo, Korey Love.