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Tough ask for Wahine Toa

Coach Brent Gare is under no illusion of the challenge ahead for Wairarapa Wahine Toa when they host Freyberg Old Boys in their first home game of the season at Solway Showgrounds on Saturday.

Wairarapa go into the game on the back of two heavy defeats in which they conceded 70 points on each occasion, including a 72–7 defeat to Old Marist last Saturday, while Freyberg bounced back from a 53–7 opening round loss to beat defending champions Kia Toa 24–10.

With only four teams contesting the Manawatu Women’s Premier Championship, the concentration of talented and experienced players, including Cycles and Hurricanes Poua representatives, into the three Manawatu-based teams makes the task ahead for Wairarapa even more difficult.

Despite the tough start to the competition, Gare said there is a good feeling within the team and “the girls just want to play footy.”

“Don’t get me wrong, everybody wants to win, but the girls are just happy to be out there representing Wairarapa Wahine Toa and playing rugby.

“We’ve got 14 debutants this year, and as long as we’re taking something and learning something from every game, then we’re moving forward. If we’re just going out there and getting beaten and not putting in the effort, we’ve achieved nothing.

“We took quite a bit of heart out of last week’s game despite the score because, for periods of the game, we were really good.”

Of the new faces, Gare said Wairarapa College openside flanker Lexi Macpherson and lock-flanker Maia Svenson have impressed, while there is plenty of experience with prop Annemieke van Vliet, the versatile Walker sisters Brodee and Darian, captain and first-five Lisa To Moananui and lock Gracie Donaldson giving the team a solid core.

Gare has no pretences of the challenge ahead on Saturday and just wants to see further improvement.

“They are a very strong side, and for them to tip over Kia Toa last week, it will be a tough ask,” he said.

“If we can build on the good passages of play from last week and extend those a bit, overall, we will be happy.”

For the first time this season, Wairarapa will perform their haka before kick-off at 2.45 pm at the Solway Showgrounds.

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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