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Uawa edge TVC in Coast battle

IT WAS an intense battle for dominance from the start when leading Ngati Porou East Coast club rugby teams TVC and Uawa met at Tolaga Bay Domain on Saturday.

TVC had won two of their games this season by large margins and lost to Tokararangi by only six points, while Uawa had won both their games.

Spectators were expecting a hard-fought, 80-minute forward tussle, and some champagne rugby from backs who weren’t afraid to move the ball around. They weren’t disappointed.

TVC’s forwards initially had the edge up front against Uawa’s smaller pack in scrums and rucks, with props Rika Mato and Joshua McDonald working well with hooker Hoani Kurei.

The visitors’ backs used the possession to keep them on attack early in the game although Uawa halfback Sam Parkes and fullback BJ Sidney ran and kicked them out of trouble several times.

Ten minutes in, TVC were ranged along the Uawa line and burst through twice, but both times the ball was dropped. That might have been the turning point of the game — TVC feeling robbed and Uawa getting a wake-up call.

Certainly Uawa got their act together. They worked harder in the rucks, and Rikki Kernohan continued his impressive lineout work. There were strong breaks by centre Storm Moran and Sidney and a sideline burst by winger Vllayne Whakataka, who was tackled into touch just short of the tryline.

Nearly 20 minutes into the game, Uawa’s break came. Sidney found the gap and offloaded to Sam Parkes, who scored.

TVC came back strongly but Uawa met them full-on. This latter part of the first half saw adventurous rugby from two teams who backed up and combined well. There were a few skill niggles — many throws into the lineout weren’t straight, and there were too many scrum/lineout infringements resulting in penalties.

As well as their strong tight forwards, TVC had a formidable backline in halfback (and former Tongan international) Tevita Ahoafi, first-five Verdon Bartlett, second-five Shane Forsyth and centre Manaia Nyman.

However, the home team’s loosies — flankers Chris Wanoa and captain Ben Parkes, and No.8 Harley Phillips — often closed down that combination by giving Afoahi and Bartlett little room to move.

The TVC loosies had less luck containing Uawa’s Sam Parkes and first-five Jordan Patrick (Uawa’s player of the day).

The second half started with TVC determined to reverse Uawa’s six-point lead but things began to fall apart. The lineouts went badly and Uawa’s scrum improved.

Seven minutes into the second spell, prop Puri Hauiti offloaded to lock Scott Lasenby, who dotted down. The try was converted by Chris Wanoa.

Soon after this, referee Joe Coleman, who had done a great job, pulled a tendon, and was replaced by spectator and former referee Chris Wanoa senior (there watching his son). Great to have Chris there. The only other ref on site was TVC player-coach Whetu Haerewa.

With only a 14-point margin, the result was technically wide open although this second 40 was definitely going Uawa’s way. Both teams made full use of their benches and 20 minutes of entertaining but tense, open rugby followed.

Fifteen minutes from time, a classic Verdon Bartlett burst through the Uawa line looked likely to lead to a try but Bartlett’s pass out wide was dropped.

Five minutes later, Sam Parkes got away from Nyman and scored. Parkes — just returned from playing rugby in Europe — continued from where he left off last year, working with his forwards, finding the gaps, moving fast and kicking accurately for the line. He converted his try.

A couple of minutes later, Uawa’s only true Coast-size front-rower, Laman Davies, sealed the deal with an unconverted try in the corner after a short pass from fellow front-rower Hauiti.

TVC were determined not to end the game scoreless, and just before the final whistle second-rower Hirini Delamere scored a pushover try, which he converted.

It was a true Coast-style game from two teams who will be worth watching as the round continues.

UAWA 28 (Sam Parkes 2, Scott Lasenby, Laman Davies tries; Chris Wanoa, Sam Parkes con) TVC 8 (Hirini Delamere try, con).

HT: Uawa 6-0.

With the NPEC’s central conference ­— Ruatoria City, Hikurangi and Waiapu — all having byes, the rest of the NPEC club action was at Tokomaru Bay.

First up was Tawhiti at home to Tokararangi, and from the high score it would seem that Toka ploughed through the men from Te Puia like a relentless scoring machine.

Not so. After 15 minutes the score was 6-6.

It was then that Tokararangi clicked into gear and started heading for the highest score in Coast rugby this season. The game settled into a repetitious routine of kick-off, scrap in the forwards, out along the backs and try, as Toka piled on 106 more points in 50 minutes.

This, and the fact that Toka are now first-equal in the competition, must have brought a warm inner glow for both Morgans and the other visitors from Te Araraoa.

Tawhiti coach Darryl Goldsmith was pleased with the way his side held Toka at the start and end of the game, and with the 14 points his team achieved. Toka remained scoreless for the last 15 minutes.

Toka were missing a couple of key players, and Jimmy Mill filled in at lock, playing like a man half his age. Player-coach Morgan Wirepa jr named Hone Haerewa, Wheturangi Grant Karaka and John Campbell as standout players in his line-up

Tokararangi 112 (scorers unavailable) Tawhiti 14 (Jeremiah Robinson, Steve Collins tries; Jake Collins con).

Tokomaru United and a resurgent Hicks Bay played the late game at Tokamaru Bay Domain — a classic game of two halves from which both teams took a four-try bonus point.

Tokomaru had a strong first half, notching up three tries and a conversion to lead 20-0.

Hicks Bay had an effective halftime hui, and brought on Tryone Delamere. They scored three tries and a conversion, to get within two points of Tokomaru at 22-20, Jason Babbington having added a penalty for Tokomaru.

Towards the end, Tokomaru came back with another try, matched by Hicks Bay.

The two conversions and two penalties by Tokomaru’s Babbington made the difference in the final result.

Hicks Bay manager Graeme Summersby said it was a strong contest between young players who defended well.

Tokomaru United 32 (James Tekahika, Stefan Destounis, Jason Babbington, Matt Marino tries; Babbington 2 pen, 2 con) Hicks Bay 26 (Tanekaha Tohore, Blue Walker, Leyth Delamere, Anton King tries; Leyth Delamere con).

HT: 20-0 (Tokomaru).

HARD YARDS: TVC tacklers Hoani Te Moana and Shane Forsyth (on ground) take on Uawa lock Scott Lasenby. Picture by Tania Hunter