Tough clashes ahead on Coast
Tokararangi have to go twice.The defending champions of Enterprise Cars Ngati Porou East Coast club rugby have — depending on your point of view — double-trouble or an opportunity to peg competition leaders TVC back this weekend.
Tokararangi will go on the road to take on unbeaten Kath McLean Memorial Cup Round 1 winners Tihirau Victory Club at Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa tomorrow, and then truck down to Kawakawa mai Tawhiti to play Hicks Bay on Sunday in a “catch-up” game from May 29.
Were Tokararangi to beat both TVC and Hicks Bay with a bonus point in each case, while denying the former a bonus point for scoring four tries and a loss within seven points, they would, like TVC, have 15 points in the Round 2 chase for the Jury Harrison Memorial Cup. Hicks Bay have seven points and Ruatoria City six points, with Tokararangi (5pts) ahead of Uawa (5pts) on points-differential. Hikurangi have two points and Tokomaru Bay United are on the march — in search of their first competition point — to Uawa Domain tomorrow.
In the other Week 11 match, at Kahuitara Sports Ground, Hikurangi will look to avenge their 7-15 Round 1 loss to City at Whakarua Park on April 17.
Tokararangi lost 13-8 at home to The Victory Club in Week 4 but they will leave Te Araroa on the morrow prepared and determined to play hard, fast, skilful rugby.
As TVC captain openside flanker Mo Mato points out, the Israel Brown-coached Tokararangi incudes men capable of giving the home team a run for its money.
“Their pack’s going to be keen. Will Bolingford and Hone Haerewa are key players we’ll have to contain,” said Mato. “As with our guys who turned out for Ngati Porou East Coast on Saturday, we’re proud of our contribution there too.”
Haerewa is the blindside flanker, Taylor Hovell the fetcher and Bolingford the No.8 in Tokararangi’s line-up for this the second meeting of these powerful clubs.
Haerewa, who led the Coast to victory 28-21 and PJ Sayers Cup glory v Poverty Bay the first time in five years last weekend, is in no doubt as to the nature of Tokararangi’s task: “We have a big challenge ahead of us this weekend, having two big games in TVC and Hicks Bay on Sunday. The boys know we have the ability to win both games, we just need take things one step at a time: focus on TVC first, then on to Hicks Bay after that.”
Besides their rugged, aggressive back-row, Tokararangi also has in place loosehead prop Chris Bristow, halfback Te Aho Haenga, first-five Rapata Haerewa and fullback Mohi Bartlett. Mato’s outfit includes scrum anchor Hirini Delamere, Manaia Nyman, who will go at it with the visiting skipper, and ace No.8 Hoani Te Moana.
The battle off the back of the scrum between Te Moana and Bolingford could be one of the best such duels NPEC club rugby has seen in the last decade.
In their 101st year, Hikurangi are ready to make more history.
Where two weeks ago a former captain of The Maunga (mountain) Rhys Walker played his 100th game for the side, tomorrow will see the return to club rugby of outstanding second-five Rob Ngarimu.
Ngarimu, who won six caps for NPEC at centre in 2014, won his last Most Valuable Player award, due in large part to his hard tackling, for Hikurangi on June 29, 2019, in a 7-all draw with TVC at Kahuitara. Seven weeks before, well-organised defence from both teams had also been a feature of their 12-all draw at Cape Runaway.
Ngarimu’s influence and impact in the midfield could be key for the hosts as Hikurangi look to retain the Tanara “Dunn” Kaiwai Memorial Trophy, which was first won by The Maunga in a best of two games per season format since 2010. Tomorrow being Ruatoria City’s first visit to Hikurangi’s home ground since it was reopened in 2019, City head coach Lisa Muller expects physicality-plus from the home team.
Muller and her assistant coach Ian Logan are fielding a team able to hold its own up front and out wide, with the bulk and ballast of Boss Blackbee, John Brown and Pera Bishop in the front-row, captain openside flanker Jack Richardson and fearsome No.8 Tanetoa Parata in the loose forwards.
Parata played his 100th game for The Maunga — and was their captain — in 2020. If anyone understands and is equipped to meet his foe, it is he.
He knows that Hikurangi’s assistant coach Pakanui Webb (named at lock), 2021 skipper No.7 Kyil Beach and fullback Te Aho Morice are all dangerous. He knows that his former club relishes tough scrummaging, mauling, rucking rugby.
It will also not be lost on him that tomorrow will be the 75th anniversary of Nga Tamatoa (dining room) and Kapohanga (wharenui, meeting house) at Hiruharama pa. These were opened on June 8, 1946, and the hospitality City will receive after the Ruatoria derby will be in proportion to the ferocity of Hikurangi head coach Matt Richards’ crew on the field of play.
Uawa at Uawa Domain make formidable opposition.
And tomorrow, in defence of the Raroa Shield and Ngoi Pewhairangi Cup, they have two more reasons to bring their best against Tokomaru Bay United.
United captain loosehead prop Mike Chambers-Raroa, former Uawa hooker Wyntah Riki and powerhouse tighthead prop Portrait Watene could be seen as either the wellspring of United’s ambition or the shield that guards the realm: in the last meeting on April 17, TBU led 12-0 at half-time on what was almost the home team’s day of days.
The visitors’ head coach Chris Richardson acknowledged United’s quality that day, and yesterday said: “We’re keen to play at home and are looking for an improvement on the last time we faced them. We need to focus.”
Week 3, Jury Harrison Memorial Cup Round 2 — TOMORROW, 2.30pm: Kahuitara Sports Ground, Hikurangi v Ruatoria City (referee Jackson Reuben-Swinton); Te Kura Mana Maori o Whangaparaoa, Tihirau Victory Club v Tokararangi (Eruera Kawhia); Uawa Domain, Uawa v Tokomaru Bay United (Troy Para).
Week 2 fixture, Jury Harrison Memorial Cup Round 2 — Sunday, 12.30pm: Kawakawa mai Tawhiti, Hicks Bay v Tokararangi (Eruera Kawhia).