Tawa Rugby look­ing stronger

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - JARED NI­COLL

Tawa Rugby Premiers are bounc­ing back strong fol­low­ing in­juries and early sea­son losses to big teams.

Af­ter a slow start los­ing their first few games to top teams, and a heavy in­jury toll re­sult­ing in 13 debu­tants hav­ing to step up to the premier­ship level in only eight weeks, Tawa won the next five games putting them in con­tention to de­fend the Ju­bilee Cup.

But that good run came to an end at Lyn­d­hurst Park on Satur­day with a 26-10 loss to Hutt Old Boys Marist. Tawa stum­bled from sev­enth to eighth place on the Swin­dale Shield ta­ble with 25 points.

Tawa Rugby Premiers coach Vice Saletele said the team was fo­cussed on mak­ing it into the top four to ce­ment their de­fence of the Ju­bilee Cup.

‘‘In just eight weeks, we’ve had to bring in 13 new play­ers who had never played premier rugby be­fore.

‘‘It’s been a whole lot of learn­ing for us, and con­fi­dence build­ing. It’s tough just to throw them in the fir­ing line, but they’ve im­proved and are grow­ing in con­fi­dence.’’

A tough start to the sea­son saw a se­ries of long-term in­juries bring down se­nior play­ers.

The team also lost their first few games, but it was to solid teams that they gen­er­ally played in semi-fi­nals such as Old Boys Univer­sity and Ories.

‘‘Coming off that was a slow start. We had felt a bit dis­ap­pointed ... but we weren’t hit­ting the panic but­ton.

‘‘The play­ers are get­ting stronger and stronger.’’

Tawa showed they had the grit to over­come a tough start last sea­son when they won the Ju­bilee Cup.

Since the fi­nals for­mat was in­tro­duced in 1993 no side had lost their first two Ju­bilee Cup rugby matches and gone on to make the semi­fi­nals. Tawa took it one step fur­ther. Af­ter drop­ping their first three in the Ju­bilee Cup and lan­guish­ing at the bot­tom of the lad­der, they surged back with a six-game win­ning streak to defy the odds and snatch the ti­tle from a ram­pant Marist St Pats side with a nail-bit­ing 24-20 win at Jerry Collins Sta­dium in Porirua last Au­gust.

NORTHS SLIP TO THIRD

Top con­tenders North­ern United Rugby Foot­ball Club has slipped to third place in the premier di­vi­sion of Welling­ton Club Rugby af­ter a 30-7 loss to Old Boys-Univer­sity at Nairnville Park on May 6.

Norths have hov­ered around the top of the Swin­dale Shield com­pe­ti­tion, now sit­ting on 36 points while top-of-the-ta­ble Ories has 40.

CAMERON BURNELL/FAIR­FAX NZ

Ta­mati Hau­raki-Tyrell scores a try for Tawa against John­sonville ear­lier this year.

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