Pre-season rugby game entertains
In the final pre-season game Aotea playing in Hawke’s Bay and Puketoi playing in Wairarapa-Bush met and entertained the Dannevirke Rugby Park crowd in a 61-point thriller.
Both teams played an enterprising game of rugby, with Puketoi having high hopes of knocking off Aotea to establish credibility and Aotea determined not to have the horror start of previous seasons.
Both hopes were realised, even though Puketoi lost 34-27, and the result was in doubt until the final whistle.
Puketoi got off to a great start scoring from a maul when Sam McCormack scored under the posts. A Matt Lowe break and chip into the corner had Ryan Tongia scoring for Aotea to even the score.
Both forward packs supplied good ball to their backs but Aotea had the edge with the Petera boys Waka and Tama weaving their magic. A Waka Petera try was followed by one from Jack Stephenson putting Aotea 17-10 up.
Aotea scored twice more before the half but Puketoi replied with a try and a penalty for a close 29-20 after 40 minutes.
The second half began with a 20-minute scoreless arm wrestle, both teams with opportunities to score but a lack of support play costing points.
The drought was broken when Waka Petera scored from a mid-field break but a high tackle had Aotea down to 14 players with seven minutes to play.
Puketoi took advantage scoring a try as a wall of forwards crashed over the line for 34-27 but it failed to get the equaliser in the final minutes.
Both coaches Jerome Pitt and Peka Hauiti should be encouraged by their teams’ performances so early in the season.
The biggest crowd in many a game — over 100 cars — witnessed two quality games at Rugby Park on Saturday with Dannevirke Sports Club also playing well in the first game.
OLLIE Wright soars in the lineout for Puketoi.
BAILEY Johnson takes the ball up for Aotea.
LEROY Pitt heading to the line to score for Puketoi.
TAMA Petera troubled the Puketoi midfield all match.