Poor prepa­ra­tion bites Ratana

Play­ers sent off to find a mouth­guard in heavy loss

Whanganui Chronicle - - Sport - By Jared Smith

ANY UN­DER 6 coach will tell his kids and their par­ents to al­ways have a mouth­guard un­til he’s blue in the face, and un­for­tu­nately the grown men of Har­vey Round Mo­tors Ratana needed a sim­i­lar rark-up on Satur­day.

The Tas­man Tan­ning Premier wooden spoon­ers could have re­ally had a dig at Mar­ton Park against McCarthy’s Trans­port Ruapehu, who were in an awk­ward phase of the com­pe­ti­tion with po­si­tional changes and their young stars fac­ing a lot of rugby in seven days.

In­stead, the story of the match has to be three of the home side be­ing given the card by ref­eree Mark Wil­son for not hav­ing a mouth­guard.

It was al­most like two games were played, as Ratana won a six-minute match 7-0 with a try after good build-up by the for­wards, but then Wil­son stopped play as it was clear mul­ti­ple Ratana play­ers were show­ing their teeth.

Sev­eral rushed to the side­line and ul­ti­mately two of them got the yel­low card, as those play­ers had to jog all the way back from No 2 field to the chang­ing rooms to scrounge up a mouth­guard from some­where.

After a de­lay of nearly 10 min­utes, the rugby re­sumed and al­though Ruapehu got frus­trated at the break­down and con­ceded mul­ti­ple penal­ties, while also ini­tially strug­gling to string their passes to­gether, they even­tu­ally clicked into gear and ran out 52-7 win­ners.

Ratana had not learnt their les­son as Wil­son sent an­other re­serve from the field to­wards the end of the match for no mouth­guard, mean­ing they had played with 13-14 for sig­nif­i­cant pe­ri­ods for no good rea­son.

Ruapehu coach Daisy Alabaster had the five points he needed, and a few work-ons to take back up to Ohakune.

“Some of it wasn’t quite right place, right time,” he said.

“We haven’t quite hit our straps yet.”

The win will set up the big away match with By­ford’s Read­imix Tai­hape next week­end for the right to lead the ta­ble, but be­fore then, all of Ruapehu’s tal­ented young­sters will have the Wed­nes­day night match for the Gain Line XV against Manawatu Un­der 19s.

Alabaster tried to man­age the load with backs Mitchell Mil­lar and Kahl Elers-Green com­ing off the bench on Satur­day, as did prop Gabriel Hakaraia, al­though he is also bat­tling ill­ness, while lock Jack­son Campbell is not 100 per cent and will prob­a­bly be pulled from the rep game.

“Those [other] five need a bit of rugby, it will be good for them,” Alabaster said.

He praised Mitchell and Elers-Green, who was tried out at cen­tre, for a strong sec­ond half, along with busy flanker Jack Kinder and Josh Fi­fita, who cov­ered half­back for the match.

Ruapehu even had the ser­vices of the leg­end, as Peter Rowe re­turned to play the first 50 min­utes at lock in yet an­other come­back from re­tire­ment.

Ratana’s best were vet­eran prop Isaac Fono­toe, cap­tain and flanker Mikaere Penetito, and half­back Onewa Tai un­til he had to leave the field after a knock to the back of the head.

After yet an­other full­time pep talk, coach Steelie Koro ad­mit­ted he was get­ting “itchy feet” about com­ing out of re­tire­ment as a player him­self, hav­ing ex­tolled his squad to keep be­ing com­mit­ted and fo­cused, while the mouth­guard is­sue was a headache they didn’t need.

“One thing all year is we stay com­pet­i­tive for about 40 min­utes of the whole game,” Koro said.

“But we’re strug­gling with­out x-fac­tor play­ers.

“We take the pos­i­tive out of each game.

“We got struc­ture when we stick to it, but in space we don’t have that light­ning fast player, [or] some­one who can lead and be sharp to guide them around.”

Just like they did in Ohakune in the first round, Ratana scored the open­ing try, which came after Ruapehu gave away the first of many penal­ties at the break­down, and from a penalty li­ne­out the home side drove on a good an­gle and prop Shade Tuaine-Whanau barged over.

After the long mouth­guard de­lay, which saw a Ratana scrum be­come a Ruapehu penalty when play re­sumed, the vis­i­tors strug­gled to crack the line as they ran to­wards the bright sun and in­fringed at the break­down.

Fi­nally, cap­tain Ro­man Tu­tauha went off the back of a ruck to get the go-for­ward, then winger Shaquille Waara worked the cut with first five Craig Clare, be­fore the ball was spread wide for the other winger Corey Carmichael to beat his man and dot down.

It took a long time be­fore Ruapehu could ex­e­cute an­other op­por­tu­nity, and fi­nally Tu­tauha got so fed up he just did it him­self — scor­ing a real cap­tain’s try off a li­ne­out as he stepped through the Ratana line, piv­oted off the other foot, then twisted in the tackle and dived through two de­fend­ers to score.

Ruapehu ex­tended their lead on half­time from a tap kick as lock An­drew Evans ran hard, then found flanker Jamie Hughes, who set up Carmichael to again step the tackle and dot down.

The vis­i­tors stepped up after the break as No 8 Campbell Hart went close to the line, with Fi­fita tak­ing it from the break­down and bur­row­ing over be­side the cor­ner flag for 24-7.

A penalty al­lowed them to at­tempt a cou­ple of drives from the scrum and the ball was freed to the fresh Mitchell, who ran hard through the gap and car­ried the last de­fender on his shoul­ders to the line.

Carmichael made a strong run off a Fi­fita pass, be­fore the ball was trans­ferred to the other wing and Waara fi­nally grabbed the try that he had missed a cou­ple of times.

Liv­ing in Ratana’s ter­ri­tory now, an­other Ruapehu penalty tap saw Tu­tauha link with Kinder and re­serve Wil­liam

King beat the last tack­ler to run back to­wards the posts.

Ruapehu liked that move and after Hughes and sec­ond five Troy Brown worked up the mid­dle, they again spread to­wards the road­side cor­ner and Kinder put Hart over be­side the flag, with Clare adding an­other ex­cel­lent kick from the side­line.

Ruapehu 52 (C Carmichael 2, R Tu­tauha, J Fi­fita, M Mitchell, S Waara, W King, C Hart tries; C Clare 6 con) bt Ratana 7 (S Tuaine-Whanau try; O Tai con). HT: 19-7.

Ruapehu flanker Jamie Hughes looks to stretch out of the Ratana tackle in his team’s big win at Mar­ton Park on Satur­day. PHOTO / MAX­INE HAKARAIA

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