Rangiuru de­feat Opotiki for top spot

Te Puke Times - - SPORT - By STU­ART WHI­TAKER

Rangiuru de­posed Opotiki to be­come Bay­wide Divi­sion 1 ta­ble lead­ers with a con­vinc­ing win in Satur­day’s top-two clash at Cen­ten­nial Park.

The 39-12 win was built on an open­ingquar­ter de­fen­sive ef­fort that coach Si­mon Rolle­ston says has be­come the hall­mark of the team in re­cent weeks.

“The last few games have been built off the back of re­ally good de­fence with ev­ery­one work­ing re­ally hard for each other and not want­ing to let each other down.”

Af­ter re­sist­ing the Opotiki on­slaught, it was Rangiuru winger Ngau­papa Faulkner who out­stripped the de­fence to score the game’s first try af­ter a turnover.

“We’re very lucky we’ve got play­ers in our team that are good strike play­ers who can pounce on the ball and go the whole field,” says Rolle­ston.

“The last few weeks we’ve been de­fend­ing re­ally well and trust­ing our sys­tems. We made it a lit­tle bit hard for our­selves in that first 20, but it was good to see them hold the line.”

Rangiuru travel to Mu­ru­para, who have a two win, seven loss record, for the final roundone game on Satur­day.

“The good thing is now, this gives us a week to have a bit of fun and en­joy the week and rest a few bod­ies be­cause some of our train­ings have been pretty in­tense. But we don’t want any hic­cups.”

Rolle­ston says the fo­cus has al­ready shifted to the next phase of com­pe­ti­tion where the top four Divi­sion 1 sides com­bine with the bot­tom four Bay­wide Premier­ship teams in the Bay­wide Premier 2 com­pe­ti­tion. The top four Premier 2 sides will play in next year’s Bay­wide Premier­ship.

Rolle­ston says se­cur­ing one of those four places is a key goal for the rest of the sea­son.

“We’re not naive about it and how hard it’s go­ing to be. Hope­fully we get a good side of the draw with four home games.”

Rangiuru’s two locks, Pat­u­ara Biel, left, and Cruise Clarke get to grips with the op­po­si­tion. Rangiuru’s open-side flanker Terry Wil­son is caught by strong Opotiki de­fence in Satur­day’s top-of-the-ta­ble Bay­wide Divi­sion 1 clash.

Isaac Te Aute clears the ball.

A strong hand-off from Rangiuru full­back Eli­jah Ni­cholas.

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