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Robinson expects big step up

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East Coast forwards dominate a breakdown, one area Wai-Bush need to improve against North Otago. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

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Winger Aseri Waqa was outstanding on attack in the win over East Coast. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

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Marcus Ale, with the ball, gets his first start at blindside flank. PHOTO/FILE

RUGBY

NORTH OTAGO vs

WAIRARAPA-BUSH,

 OAMARU 2.30pm

Copthorne Wairarapa-Bush coach Reece Robinson has made two changes to the starting lineup for tomorrow’s second-round Heartland Championship clash to combat the big powerful home side.

Marist’s Marcus Ale comes onto the blindside flank, pushing Logan Wakefield into the middle row, while Tom Campbell drops out of the squad to travel to Oamaru, and Epeli Rayaqayaqa comes onto the bench.

Robinson said it was always his plan to bring Ale, one of the outstanding loose forwards in the club competition, into the starting XV once he had recovered from a knee injury that saw him miss the preseason and come off the bench in the 32–31 win over Ngati Porou East Coast last week.

“Marcus loves that physical contact, and that’s probably an area where we need to step up a bit, especially against North Otago, and we need to make sure we’re really getting stuck into them,” Robinson said.

The only change in the backline sees Isaac Bracewell start at halfback ahead of  Sam Walton-Sexton, in a move to provide quicker ball for the talented backline.

“We’ll definitely be using Sam as an impact, and we feel against North Otago, if we bring him on in the last 30–35 minutes, there will be some opportunities for him to have a good crack around the ruck and hopefully exploit some gaps.”

North Otago at home will be a big step up from East Coast, and Robinson has identified several areas Wai-Bush need to improve on, highlighting the breakdown, ball carries, set piece, and defence, if they are to be competitive against one of the championship favourites.

“Watching their video clips, their set piece is strong, they’ve got some exciting backs, and they like to counterattack,” he said.

“They’re going to be extremely tough. For us to combat that, we need to make sure our line speed on defence is going to be on point, and we’ve identified a couple of areas where we can attack, and we hope to expose those on Saturday.”

Robinson plans to play the wide expansive game that resulted in some brilliant free-flowing rugby and four outstanding tries in the win over East Coast.

“If we can get that running rugby going, we’re going to put a lot of teams under pressure.

“We’ve got nothing to lose, especially from the result of last year, so we want to throw everything at it this year, but we don’t fear anyone, and we’ll rip into them.

“Looking at that East Coast game, we were down by 14 at a couple of periods of the game, so against North Otago, if we get behind, we’re going to give it 100 per cent for the full 80, and I’m pretty confident we can get the win.”

Wai-Bush have a poor recent record against North Otago, having won only three out of the last 10 encounters, the most recent a 30–21 win in the 2018 Lochore Cup semifinal. North Otago comfortably won their 2022 clash in Palmerston North 35–5. Wai-Bush last won in Oamaru in 2016.

Wairarapa-Bush team: 

Forwards – Tupou Lea’aemanu, Terongo Tekii, Stan Wright Jnr, Sam Gammie [co-captain], Logan Wakefield, Marcus Ale, Inia Katia, Isireli Biumaiwai. Backs – Isaac Bracewell,  Ben Brooking, Tafa Tafa, Fiula Tameilau, Aseri Waqa, Nikora Ewe, Andre Taylor [co-captain]

Substitutes: Forwards – George Parke, Ty Waight, Lewis Bush, Jared Hawkins, Epeli Rayaqayaqa
Backs –  Sam Walton-Sexton, Harry Eschenbach, Nathan Hunt.

WOMEN

EAST COAST vs WAIRARAPA-BSUH

Tremains Field, Napier 1.30pm

Wairarapa-Bush will step into the unknown tomorrow when they kick off their North Island Heartland Women’s Championship against Ngati Porou East Coast Hamoterangi.

The team, mostly comprising players from the Wairarapa Wahine Toa and Bush clubs, have had little game time since the completion of the Manawatu competition in June, and co-coach Brent Gare is under no illusions of how difficult the game is going to be.

“We’re playing a union that has eight women’s teams, and we know we’re in for a tough battle,” Gare said.

“We haven’t had the build-up we would have liked with the Manawatu season being so short and with two months between games.”

The team for tomorrow is still to be confirmed because of player availability, although Gare said there’s a good mix of experience and youth.

Flanker Xanthe Somerville and fullback Kate Donald were two who starred for Wahine Toa while the Bush players are likely to include centre Jessica Bills, flanker Sam Tipene [subject to clearance from Manawatu Cyclones], prop Ruby May Ngaruhe, and the versatile Paige Walker, who can play loose forward or in the midfield.

Gare said the aim is to get the first game under their belt before a run of three home games.

In more good news for the North Island”s only all-women’s rugby club, Wairarapa Wahine Tao is one of ten rugby clubs named as the latest recipients of Bunnings Rugby Assist and are set to receive $30000 to put towards upgrading their facilities.

 < Robinson plans to play the wide expansive game that resulted in some brilliant free-flowing rugby and four outstanding tries in the win over East Coast.

“If we can get that running rugby going, we’re going to put a lot of teams under pressure.

“We’ve got nothing to lose, especially from the result of last year, so we want to throw everything at it this year, but we don’t fear anyone, and we’ll rip into them.

“Looking at that East Coast game, we were down by 14 at a couple of periods of the game, so against North Otago, if we get behind, we’re going to give it 100 per cent for the full 80, and I’m pretty confident we can get the win.”

Wai-Bush have a poor recent record against North Otago, having won only three out of the last 10 encounters, the most recent a 30–21 win in the 2018 Lochore Cup semifinal. North Otago comfortably won their 2022 clash in Palmerston North 35–5. Wai-Bush last won in Oamaru in 2016.

Wairarapa-Bush team:

Forwards – Tupou Lea’aemanu, Terongo Tekii, Stan Wright Jnr, Sam Gammie [co-captain], Logan Wakefield, Marcus Ale, Inia Katia, Isireli Biumaiwai.

Backs – Isaac Bracewell, Ben Brooking, Tafa Tafa, Fiula Tameilau, Aseri Waqa, Nikora Ewe, Andre Taylor [co-captain]

Substitutes:

Forwards – George Parke, Ty Waight, Lewis Bush, Jared Hawkins, Epeli Rayaqayaqa
Backs – Sam Walton-Sexton, Harry Eschenbach, Nathan Hunt.

WOMEN

East Coast vs Wairarapa-Bush

Tremains Field, Napier 1.30pm

Wairarapa-Bush will step into the unknown tomorrow when they kick off their North Island Heartland Women’s Championship against Ngati Porou East Coast Hamoterangi.

The team, mostly comprising players from the Wairarapa Wahine Toa and Bush clubs, have had little game time since the completion of the Manawatu competition in June, and co-coach Brent Gare is under no illusions of how difficult the game is going to be.

“We’re playing a union that has eight women’s teams, and we know we’re in for a tough battle,” Gare said.

“We haven’t had the build-up we would have liked with the Manawatu season being so short and with two months between games.”

The team for tomorrow is still to be confirmed because of player availability, although Gare said there’s a good mix of experience and youth.

Flanker Xanthe Somerville and fullback Kate Donald were two who starred for Wahine Toa while the Bush players are likely to include centre Jessica Bills, flanker Sam Tipene [subject to clearance from Manawatu Cyclones], prop Ruby May Ngaruhe, and the versatile Paige Walker, who can play loose forward or in the midfield.

Gare said the aim is to get the first game under their belt before a run of three home games.

In more good news for the North Island’’s only all-women’s rugby club, Wairarapa Wahine Tao is one of ten rugby clubs named as the latest recipients of Bunnings Rugby Assist and are set to receive $30000 to put towards upgrading their facilities.

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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