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Wahine aim to finish on a high

Monique Kloeg, centre. is one of several key players in the Wahine Toa forward pack. PHOTOS/FILE

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
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Wairarapa Wahine Toa are fired up to finish their club season with a win over Whanganui Metropolitan in Whanganui tomorrow.

There is plenty riding on the game at Spriggens Park, with the victor winning the bottom three bracket in the Manawatu women’s premier championship.

Providing further motivation for Wahine Toa is that it is the second time from their two fixtures that they have had to travel to Whanganui and coach Scott Collins says that has the team fizzing to make a big effort.

Dutch international Annemieke van Vliet missed the first-round loss to Whanganui.

Whanganui won their first-round clash 34-15, but Wahine Toa were without several of their experienced players then, including former Dutch international and Manawatu Cyclone tight forward Annemieke van Vliet.

Collins reckons van Vliet’s influence in the young team cannot be underestimated.

“She’s a talisman and leads the way. She’s got that big-game experience as well, which we don’t have a lot of,” said Collins.

“She’s obviously played at a higher level, and she does tend to lead by doing a lot, and when she is there, the other players step up. She’s definitely an inspirational leader.

“Having Annemieke will hopefully sure up that forward pack up for us.”

Van Vliet will line up at prop, where she will likely come up against ex-Black Fern Sosoli Talawadua, one of two Cyclones in the Whanganui front row, the other being Lavenia Nauga-Grey.

Flanker Emma Brown, and frontrower Victoria Parr, are missing for the game, but Collins said there is the depth to reverse the first-round result.

“They were beatable but, in the end, we beat ourselves up with a couple of things. There were a lot of simple handling errors and rushing things a little bit, so we need to slow it down.

“Our key thing is going to be our defence, making our first up tackles, and if we can tidy up some those little basic things we should hopefully push through and we’re gunning for the win, but we just have to make sure we tick off all the little boxes on the way.

“We have been improving on those things week in and week out, and it’s just stringing it all together all at once.”

The Wahine Toa warmed up for the decider with an 84-10 thumping of competition stragglers Ashhurst-Pohangina two weeks ago, and Collins used that as an opportunity to try out combinations and work on structures.

Not helping their build-up, though has been illness which swept through the team and prevented any training until this week.

Despite that, Collins is confident that they are good enough to come home with the victory if they click.

“We’ve got those players who can do the hard yards, but sometimes you need that little bit of X factor and some of young ones can be a little bit hesitant because they’re not sure if they should be making that decision and having a crack.

“Every decision is the right decision, it’s just execution really.”

Kickoff is at 2.30pm, tomorrow, at Spriggens Park, Whanganui.

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