Border has a revenge mission
Waverley Harvesting Border has a score to settle when it challenges Black Bull Liquor Pirates for the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield at Spriggens Park when the second round of the Tasman Tanning Wanganui premier championship starts on Saturday.
Pirates lifted the trophy 22-17 off Border on the starting day of the premier qualifying series on March 24 and has withstood six challenges since then including a 19-all draw with Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau and a nail-biting 12-10 win over playing through champions McCarthy Transport Ruapehu.
Now Border, who won the Challenge Shield last season, comes to Spriggens Park for the first time this winter looking for a revenge victory. History, however, indicates it could be quite a tussle because the South Taranaki club has only beaten Pirates three times in nine games in the city since Border returned from the Taranaki union in 2011.
Border has been consistent in reaching the play-offs for the past six years including making four finals and winning the title in 2016 but the club has managed only six victories in 16 visits to play Pirates and Marist in the past seven seasons.
Pirates has won five times at home, drew 17-all last year and lost three times when hosting Border.
Marist has won four of seven home games against Border since 2011.
Pirates’ recent record against Border on Spriggens Park —
2017 drew 17-all, 2016l lost 17-57 (Challenge Shield), 2015 won 26-5 (Challenge Shield), 2014 won 26-13 and 18-16 (semi-final), 2013 lost 5-16 (Challenge Shield), 2012 won 25-20 (Challenge Shield) and lost 6-23 (semifinals), 2011 won 19-12.
Pirates, the only unbeaten team this year, just held off a determined Ruapehu side 12-10 a fortnight ago to win the first round honours — the Paul Mitchell Cup and the Breakers’ Bar $500 voucher.
Pirates start the second round on 29 points, 3 pts ahead of Border and Ruapehu with Taihape (23 pts) making up the Top Four with seven more qualifying games ahead for the eight premier sides.
Border has scored 284 points and conceded 97 compared with Pirates’ 146 (85) but Pirates played one less match because struggling Settlers Honey Ngamatapouri defaulted.
Border has scored 37 tries and conceded 13 compared with Pirates’ 22 for and 12 against.
Ruapehu beat Kaierau 15-5 at Ohakune in the first round and will be hoping for a more convincing result when the teams meet at the Devon Road Country Club on Saturday. Since losing by 10 points at Rochfort Park Kaierau has had some close tussles with higher ranked opposition this winter in other away fixtures — 19-all against Pirates, 28-29 v Marist and 20-22 v Taihape with the heaviest defeat 10-29 at home against Border.
A problem for Kaierau has been trying to gain control in the forwards and this is one area where Ruapehu is traditionally strong.
Marist has been very disappointing this season but should still beat Ngamatapouri up the Waitotara Valley this weekend (it was 36-10 on opening day) and Taihape should beat winless Ratana (it was 21-10 in round one) at Marton Park.
Saturday’s Pirates v Border premier game at Spriggens Park could well determine the fate of the Metropolitan domestic championship (Alex Takarangi Cup) for 2018. The two clubs have dominated the trophy over the past six years.
Unbeaten Pirates, Metro champs in 2014-15-17, currently have 16 pts, one clear of 2012-13-16 holders Border with Marist on 10
pts, Kaierau 9 and Ngamatapouri nil.
Since the start of the unionwide championships in 1987 Border (formerly Waverley) has won the Metro domestic title seven times, including in 1980-81-94-95 as Waverley, and Pirates won in 1990 and 2000 prior to three wins in the last four years.
If recent years are any guide the current Takarangi Cup series could go right down to the wire to determine the trophy holders.
Pirates edged out Border 32 points to 31 last year to win the Takarangi Cup, it was 25 pts all in 2015 with Pirates winning 145 to 83 on points differential, and in 2014 it was 23-20 to Pirates.
The Northern Wanganui domestic title will be decided on June 16 at Memorial Park when Taihape, who won the first round 17-10 in Ohakune, hosts Ruapehu.
Since the turn of the century Ruapehu has won the Northern title 13 times including 11 on the trot between 2004 and 2014 and Taihape won in 2000 (sharing it with Utiku OB), 2001, 2003 and 2015-16.
Note — The Takarangi Cup is named after Ariki Marehura (Alex) Takarangi who was the first Wanganui player to appear in 100 first-class matches.
He was regarded as one of the most versatile players in the country during his playing era, playing at fullback, centre, wing and as a forward in his 62 matches for Wanganui between 1898 and 1915. He scored tries to help Wanganui beat USA Universities 18-6 in 1910 and Australia 11-6 in 1913 and also played locally against NSW in 1901 (8-9 loss) and the touring Anglo-Welsh team in 1908 (lost 6-9). He played in a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Taranaki in 1914 (3-17 loss).
Alex, born in Wanganui in 1876 and a Kaierau club member, also played for both Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu in 1896, and was fullback for North Island who drew 3-all with the South Island at Dunedin in 1904.
He captained the original NZ Maoris to Australia in 1910 and was also skipper in 1911 and 1913, playing 32 games for the Maoris. He was awarded an MBE and died in Wanganui in 1960
Ex president dies
Wanganui has lost one of its few Ma¯ ori presidents of recent years with the death of 78-year-old Phillip (Phil) Rahania Hopkins.
He was president of the WRFU in 2002 after earlier serving on the union’s management committee as a Ma¯ ori delegate.
Phil, who farmed in Ruapehu and was a carpenter by trade, was a staunch member of the Wanganui Marist Rugby Club.
Wanganui union patron and life member Arch Roebuck, who attended the funeral, said it was fitting that Phil was dressed in his WRFU union blazer, which he always wore with pride, and was wearing a Marist club tie.
Pall bearers included former Wanganui representative Peter Te Huna and current referee George Te Huna.
Vital Senior Match
The 10th and penultimate qualifying round in the Tasman Tanning senior competition on Saturday includes an interesting clash between defending champions Speirs Food Marton and Marist Celtic on Marton Park.
They are both well placed to qualify in the Top Six when the 11-team grade is split into Six and Five teams for second round fixtures after Queen’s Birthday Weekend.
Kelso Hunterville took visiting Marton apart 32-9 last weekend to lift the Stihl Shop Wanganui Challenge Shield and open up a six point lead at the top of the senior points table with 39 pts.
Celtic, despite having the bye last Saturday, has 33 pts, Marton 29, Border 25 and Counties and Utiku OB 20 each.
This coming weekend Counties challenge unbeaten Hunterville for the Challenge Shield at Kaiwhaiki, second and third placed Celtic and Marton clash, while Border and Utiku OB have away matches at Spriggens Park (v Buffalos) and Kaierau respectively. Taihape is home to Ruapehu with Pirates having the bye.
In the final first round qualifying games on May 26 none of the current top six teams meet each other.
The bottom five clubs at present are Pirates 18 pts, Taihape 17, Kaierau 13, Buffalos 11 and Ruapehu 5.
With 313 points from eight games Hunterville is the top points scoring team in the premier and senior grades this winter, scoring 52 tries in the process. And the conceded 74 points is the least of any of the 19 teams in the two grades.
Ruapehu premier have scored 268 points (80 against) in seven games, Border premiers 264 (97 against) from seven outings and Celtic seniors 245 (96 against) in eight matches.
Tiari Tiko Tapu-Mumby is Hunterville’s top try scorer with nine followed by Peter Duxfield 8, Scott Parkes and Jamie Brett 7 each. Top points scorers are TapuMumby and Parkes with 45 each, Duxfield 40 and Guy Percy 39.
In the premiers Shaquelle Waara (Ruapehu) has eight tries, one clear of Harry Symes (Border) and Kahl Elers-Green (Ruapehu). Nick Harding (Border) has 90 pts and Mitchell Millar (Ruapehu) 71.