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Bay out to show mettle

RUGBY

POVERTY Bay are eager to get back on course with their first home game of the season — against Buller at Rugby Park tomorrow.

Spectators will not be able to attend the game under Covid-19 Alert Level 2 rules.

The match will be livestreamed from the Poverty Bay Rugby Facebook page.

“While it’s not much of a crowd, it will be good to play in front of our own people (and) not travel,” Poverty Bay co-coach Tom Cairns said.

Both teams come into the game with a chip on their shoulder after Week 1, with Poverty Bay having lost to Whanganui 65-12 and Buller having lost to South Canterbury 48-13.

Cairns said the players were in good spirits and keen to prove themselves on the field.

“We’re pretty determined to show we’re a better team than last week,” he said.

“We’re motivated to put in a performance to be proud of.”

With a forecast of blue skies and light wind, both teams will have the opportunity to spread the ball and use their pace on the flanks.

With stars like fullback Andrew Tauatevalu and winger Te Peehi Fairlie keen to show off their fancy footwork, it will be left to the forwards to provide a stable base to give them the front-foot ball they need.

Last week Poverty Bay struggled to secure ball at the ruck and were regularly pushed off the ball, which meant they were unable to generate meaningful pressure for large parts of the game.

This week at training, the team looked to fine-tune defensive details and different phases of play at set-piece, Cairns said.

While Poverty Bay have stuck with their locals-only policy this year, Buller will come into the game with three loan players.

Prop Jake Wetere and locks Jeff Lepa and Caleb Havili (younger brother of All Black David Havili) are on loan from the wider Tasman Mako squad and will provide strong depth in their forward pack.

With big men like prop Toru Noanoa and No. 8 Tamanui Hill, Poverty Bay will have to meet head-on the physicality that Buller will bring. It will also be a milestone for reserve prop Tulsa Kaui, who will be eyeing up his Poverty debut off the bench this weekend.

Cairns said the Buller forwards were their danger weapon, and he expected them to come with the same intensity Poverty Bay wanted to bring.

With Covid having pushed the season into November, Cairns said they had several players unavailable because of work commitments.

They will be without the influence of No. 8 Jesse Kapene, who has been working in Napier.

“This is the problem with the season being pushed back with Covid,” Cairns said.

“Work and family come first . . . that can’t be helped.”

Poverty Bay: 1 Toru Noanoa, 2 Riki Terekia, 3 James Higgins, 4 Sam McDell, 5 Dan Law, 6 George Whakatope, 7 Stefan Destounis, 8 Tamanui Hill, 9 Mario Counsell, 10 Kelvin Smith (c), 11 Tione Hubbard, 12 Jacob Leaf, 13 Penikolo Latu, 14 Aaron McLelland, 15 Andrew Tauatevalu, 16 Shayde Skudder, 17 Tulsa Kaui (new cap), 18 Antonio Walker-Leawere, 19 Keanu Taumata, 20 Jake Holmes, 21 Taine Aupouri, 22 Te Peehi Fairlie.