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Wai-Bush gun for a clean sheet

Nathan Hunt, foreground, brings x-factor out wide for Wairarapa-Bush. PHOTO/FILE


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Coach Joe Harwood has made two changes to the Farriers Wairarapa-Bush starting lineup for today’s Jeremy David Memorial Cup against Poverty Bay at Tremain Park, Napier.

Experienced Eketahuna prop Sam Gammie gets his first start of the season ahead of clubmate Max Tufuga, who moves to the bench.

In the backs, Martinborough winger Nathan Hunt will play his first game for Wai-Bush in six years after recovering from a fractured hand suffered in the club semifinals.

“Hunty brings a bit of x-factor out wide,” Harwood said.

“He’s extremely strong in terms of his attacking sense and his ability to bust tackles and beat players, so it would be good to get him some ball and space and see how he goes.

“It’s been a while since he played for us, but he’s an experienced campaigner.”

Nick Birchfield and Sam Morison have been named at first-five and fullback respectively as was the case last week against King Country.

Harwood made a late change for that game, swapping the roles, but said he is unlikely to do so again today as it was a chance to test the two in the different positions.

Wai-Bush started last Saturday’s 22-18 win over King Country strongly, going out to a 15-0 lead before letting the opposition back into the game – something Harwood doesn’t want repeated.

The team needed to maintain their shape and patterns, which fell away under pressure from the King Country defence.

“We need a bit more urgency particularly at breakdown time, so carrying into contact, and more urgency in the cleanout to get us good front-foot ball.

“If we can go back to that first half last Saturday and retain as much ball as possible, it gives us a chance to wear teams down that way.”

Wai-Bush beat Poverty Bay 36-31 last year in an entertaining game, and Harwood expected a similar pattern from two teams who like to throw the ball around.

“I know their number 15 [Andrew Tauatevalu] is a big threat. He’s particularly dangerous – he’s got a good boot on him, and he’s a good goalkicker as well.”

“You can’t rest and you’ve just got to keep going and keep having that attacking mindset to get down the other end of the field and just work really hard because if we get caught short out wide, then they will punish us, so we make sure defensively we mark up, and we spread out across the field.”

Like Wai-Bush, Poverty Bay are unbeaten in their representative outings this season having beaten Ngati Porou East Coast twice – two weeks ago when they needed a late penalty to win 34-31 in Gisborne, and 42-16 last weekend in Ruatoria.

Wairarapa-Bush team to play King Country at Tremain Park, Napier today:

Sam Morison, Nathan Hunt, Tipene Haira, Nikora Ewe, Soli Malatai, Nick Birchfield, Cameron Ravenwood, Kirk Tufuga [captain], Johan van Vliet, Joe Tako, Peter Beech, Tom McKay, Lewis Bush, James Pakoti, Sam Gammie.

Reserves: Sam Siaosi, Tupou Lea’aemanu, Max Tufuga, Tavita Isaac, Tekii Terongo, Inia Katia, Leo Eneliko.

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