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Defence and discipline key for victory

Aseri Waqa, on the attack against Poverty Bay, moves from fullback to the wing. PHOTO/PAUL RICKARD

RUGBY

Defence and discipline are key to Farriers Wairarapa-Bush getting their first win of the Heartland Championship season against old foes Horowhenua-Kapiti at Trust House Memorial Park today.

Wai-Bush were their own worst enemies in last Saturday’s 26-30 loss to Poverty Bay in Gisborne. Missed tackles, which coach Mark Rutene estimated at around 50, coupled with poor discipline at the breakdown proved costly with a yellow card, the second in two games, opening the door for the home side to take the lead, which they never relinquished.

“Fifty missed tackles, that’s huge, and you don’t want to be more than 20 really,” Rutene said.

“If you’re missing tackles you’re defending a lot which means you’re generally infringing a lot because the referees will look at the defensive team rather than the attacking team and we’re giving away too many penalties, so if we improve our discipline and make our tackles, hopefully we’ll get a bit more ball.

“We were a bit loose going into contact last week, but mainly discipline and first-time tackles. If we can do those two things we’re in with a good chance, but if we don’t make our tackles we’re going to struggle,” he said.

Rutene is, however, satisfied with the improvement at the set piece, with the scrum strong, and the lineout accurate, particularly in the first half. That has seen him retain the same starting eight.

The only changes come on the bench, with hooker Ryan Wilson, prop Rhys Watkins [subject to fitness], and lock Dominic Herlihy returning to the squad after missing last week. Injury has kept imposing props Doug Juszczyk [foot] and James Coburn [calf] sidelined.

Andrew Smith will make his 25th appearance for Wai-Bush against Horowhenua-Kapiti. PHOTO/FILE

The only change from the starting XV is in the backline where Petone utility back Ben Brooking comes into fullback for his first-class debut for the green and reds, and Carterton flyer Aseri Waqa moves to the wing for the injured Charles Mataitai.

The experienced backs Soli Malatai, Tristan Flutey, and Nikora Ewe have recovered from injury and add depth to the bench.

Rutene has a close connection with Horowhenua-Kapiti having been assistant coach when they beat Wai-Bush in the 2018 Lochore Cup final. He said the although the personnel has changed a lot since then they still like to front with big players.

“They’ve got a big strong forward pack and they like to give it to their big boys close to the line. When you have a small team you have to be a bit more wise how you use the ball and when you play a big team one advantage is to move the ball around,” he said.

Today’s game will be milestones for the middle row partners. Sam Gammie will run out for his 50th first-class game, while Andrew Smith will make his 25th appearance.

Little separates the two teams in recent history. Horowhenua-Kapiti easily won last year’s clash 37-14, however, Wai-Bush won the previous three encounters.

Victory is vital for Wai-Bush to revive their prospects of reaching the playoffs. A third straight loss would likely end any prospects of making the Meads Cup, and even dent their Lochore Cup chances [for fifth to eighth placed teams], with Heartland heavyweights Thames Valley and South Canterbury to come in the ensuing weeks.

Wairarapa-Bush team:

Ben Brooking, Aseri Waqa, Inia Katia, Tafa Tafa, Fiula Tameilau, Aidan Champion, Daryl Pickering, Jack Loader, Eddie Cranston, James Goodger [captain], Sam Gammie, Andrew Smith, Tolu Fahamokioa, Sam Siaosi, Tupou Lea’aemanu.

Substitutes: Ryan Wilson, Dominic Herlihy, Rhys Watkins, Logan Flutey, Tristan Flutey, Soli Malatai, Nikora Ewe, Stan Wright Jnr.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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