Dominant display from Ngatapa
RUGBY by Jack Malcolm
Ngatapa have secured their place in the Poverty Bay club rugby premier semifinals with a convincing 48-19 win against High School Old Boys.
The Ngatapa forward pack were in strong form, pressuring the HSOB scrum and putting them in all sorts of trouble at their set-piece.
HSOB struggled to get clean clearance of the ball, with their forwards being marched steadily backwards.
Ngatapa were strong on defence and were able to force turnovers with their backs against the tryline in the face of several spirited HSOB attacks.
HSOB had moments of brilliance, but they were overshadowed by Ngatapa, who capitalised on broken play with clinical precision.
HSOB were not getting the bounce of the ball, and Ngatapa kept them pinned back with efficient kicking into space.
The floodgates started to open in the second half as fatigue set in.
Once Ngatapa started to create line breaks, their big forwards were hard to stop when they had front-foot ball.
Ngatapa coach Stephen Hickey said the tight five played well, giving the loose-forward trio the space to “do their stuff”.
At times they were able to play to their game plan, but he wanted to commend HSOB for giving them a good test, despite having a diminished line-up.
For the last third of the game, scrums were uncontested, golden-oldies-style, because HSOB did not have a front-row replacement.
“Full credit to HSOB, through . . . they played really well.”
Hickey said Mike Livingston had a strong performance for Ngatapa, starting at halfback before shifting to first five-eighth.
He hopes his side can keep up the momentum they’ve built going into their games with Waikohu and YMP, who are both “big physical sides”.
HSOB coach Danny Boyle said he was “bloody happy” to have fielded a team over the weekend, with several old players coming back into the fold to bolster the numbers.
After putting the call out over social media that they were in desperate need of front-rowers and backs, they were able to pull together a team.
While the team had faced adversity, he said he was proud to see the amount of support people gave their club.
Boyle said the two-week break had been a hindrance to the team and had interrupted their preparations. He said with no reserve props, they tried to go as long as they could to give Ngatapa a game, but had to revert to uncontested scrums.
The team also had two debuts in the backs.
“I really enjoyed the new players who came on (Von Huata at centre and Isaiah Lemaua on the wing) . . . they made really strong debuts,” Boyle said.
The club also welcomed film actor and past player Shane Rangi over the weekend. He had mistakenly seen social media posts about a High School Old Boys reunion, only to find out after driving up to Gisborne that it was for a Christchurch-based club.
Rangi, who played for the club in the 1980s, is now a stuntman/actor who has worked on blockbuster movies such as Iron Man and the Lord of the Rings series.
He attended the game but did not take the field.
In Senior A results, Ngatapa earned their first win of the season, beating Waikohu 14-7, Wairoa beat YMP 34-14 and Tapuae beat Pirates 34-11.
Wairoa have a commanding lead on the points table, with only one loss in 2021.They are nine points clear of second-equal Pirates and Tapuae, who are both on 18 points. YMP have 17 points, Waikohu have 14 and Ngatapa have eight.