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Wet and cold trial run for senior rugby

Wet and cold trial run for senior rugby

Manawatū and Tararua prop Annamieke van Vliet takes the attack to Hawkes Bay early in the match.

Coaches were philosophical with regard to the weather turning wintery last month during the men’s and women’s senior rugby trials.

“It’ll be good experience playing in the wet” was their response, as a cold wet southerly swept Dannevirke just as the wāhines’ game started at Rugby Park.

That experience will help during the national competition, to start this month.

There was keen interest from Tararua District in the Manawatū Wahine Development Squad as 11 of the 23-strong squad came from Bush and Wairarapa Wahine Toa teams.

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From Bush were Jessica Bills, Katelyn Donaldson, Ruby-May Ngaruhe, Martha Broughton, Samantha Olsen, Kaia Walker-Waitoa and Claudia Smith.

Wairarapa Wahine Toa fielded Anna Meek, Missy Williams, Annemieke van Vliet and Xanthe Somerville.

Unfortunately for Manawatū, they started into the strong wind and Hawke’s Bay capitalised, scoring two tries in the first 10 minutes.

Hawke's Bay's huge prop Ashley Palu ploughs through the Manawatū defence.
Hawke’s Bay’s huge prop Ashley Palu ploughs through the Manawatū defence.

Manawatū fullback Kate Donald makes a break in midfield.
Manawatū fullback Kate Donald makes a break in midfield.

One try was the first of three by prop Ashley Palu, who also created two try-assists. She had recently played for the South Island Matatu team and was relatively fresh from the Skye Super Rugby Aupiki competition, in which her team won the final.

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The game was played with great pace, a wet ball causing a few passes to go to ground, but the power of a big pack, good tactical kicking with the wind and slick wingers had Hawke’s Bay up 26-0 at halftime.

Manawatū turned with the wind and, after conceding a try early on the game, became a good even contest. This was a trial for players on both teams and there was plenty of determination, skill and talent on both sides – plenty to work with, in the words of both coaches.

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A try in the last minute to Hawke’s Bay made the final score 40-0, which in no way was a fair reflection of play, especially in the second half.

The Manawatū men's lineout performed well against Hawke's Bay.
The Manawatū men’s lineout performed well against Hawke’s Bay.

In the men’s game, the weather stayed dry but the wind was bitterly cold from the southeast. With no players from Tararua in either team, there was just the skill of the players on show to consider.

Many of the top players are still playing overseas, so it was an opportunity for locals to shine – and shine they did. With defence strategies not well-rehearsed, there were plenty of gaps in the midfield, although the forward defence was fierce.

Hawke’s Bay took an early lead with two tries. Manawatū came back to narrow the gap to one, but Hawke’s Bay scored again to take a 19-7 lead into halftime. The game was a thriller to watch with amazing back skills in both teams, and with Hawke’s Bay ending up 31-14 winners.

The biggest crowd of the season in the grandstand, well-dressed against the weather, watched both games with interest.
The biggest crowd of the season in the grandstand, well-dressed against the weather, watched both games with interest.

Director of Hawke’s Bay Rugby and ex-Dannevirke/Hawke’s Bay representative Peter Davis would be pleased to see the potential in his side, but Manawatū will be no easy beat.

  • June 25, 2023