Prop Jason Long won’t forget his record equalling 138th match for Auto Super Shoppe’s Hastings Rugby and Sports in a hurry.
The HRS and Magpies prop marked the occasion by scoring a try after five minutes, at Elwood Park against a spirited Tanalised Napier Pirates.
HRS’s 44-5 victory puts them third on the Maddison Trophy premier points table, behind first equal Taradale and Progressive Meats Havelock North, who both made it three from three victories on Saturday.
In taking the field, Long, who is also the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union’s Commercial Manager and a NZ Stockcar champion Long, equalled his manager James Rosenberg’s record 138 appearances for the amalgamated club.
HRS continued to dominate territory for long periods during the first half.
However, Pirates contested the rucks vigorously, disrupting HRS’s momentum and benefiting from several penalties going their way.
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HRS kept the pressure on and took their opportunities clinically.
The big Hastings forward pack worked well as a unit. Young loose forward Emil Crichton carried the ball hard and got through a tonne of work which resulted in him joining the score sheet.
Comparatively, when Pirates got opportunities, they were guilty of kicking away possession or errors which denied them the opportunity to build pressure.
Hastings ended the first half ahead 29-0 on the back of great team interplay, a strong scrum and the ability to capitalise on opportunities.
Whatever Pirate coaches Andy Lord and Spencer Bethell said at the half time break did the trick with their team returning to the field chancing their arm, treasuring possession and playing with more endeavour.
On attack halfback Liam Batt got more go forward from his pack which enabled Hurricanes prop Pouri Rakete-Stones to make multiple strong carries supported well by midfield back Tyrone Edwards.
The HRS defence was strong and were directed well by busy halfback Connor McLeod with forwards putting in big shifts, and the addition of bench members helping their cause.
Pirate finally crossed the try line through a try to Ben Lewis but they could not stop HRS continuing to accumulate points.
It was a strong performance that put a smile on coach Andrew Hui’s face following the final whistle.
Hui was happy with his team’s performance considering several of their regulars were unavailable for this fixture.
“We had a focus to start well and are pretty pleased with the first half. We lost a bit of structure in the 2nd half but defended well and are happy holding Pirates to the solitary try”.
He applauded lock Jono Makris who on his return to premier rugby got through a heap of work. Magpies wing Mason Emerson playing in the midfield performed well but Hui signalled Crichton as their best, playing in the unfamiliar role of openside.
The coach was thrilled at Crichton’s performance in his first season out of Hastings Boys’ High School.
Pirates coach Andy Lord was frustrated with the slow start which meant Pirate were always going to struggle to get back into the game.
“HRS came out more hungry, got a roll on and we struggled to adapt”.
Lord thought half back Liam Batt who showed his versatility by moving to first five played really well, Rakete-Stones never gave up and showed why he is a Super Rugby representative and both skipper Damien Scott and Tipene Lord, off the bench, added good enthusiasm and never stopped trying.
HRS 44 (Jason Long 1 try, Jacob Devery 1 try, Emil Crichton 2 tries, Jayden Rihia 1 try, Jordan Thompson 1 try, Neria Fomai 1 try, Joe Taafi 1 try & Connor McLeod 2 conversions) Pirate 5 (Ben Lewis 1 try)
At Central Park, unbeaten Taradale were given a mighty fright by plucky Northfuels Central Rugby & Sports. Central playing in front of a good home crowd – which included All Black Brodie Retallick – applied plenty of pressure on the significantly larger and more physical Taradale side only to run out of gas in the last quarter for a 21-54 loss.
Coach David Lochore was ‘proud of the effort of all the squad who never stop trying’ but lamented his side’s inability to capitalise on winning situations.
For Central powerful number 8 Finau Nimatasau once again led the way in both attach and defence with some huge carries while first five James Logan continued to impress as a player of promise.
Others to make manager Ian Larges MVP list included young flanker and ex Napier Boys High captain Frank Lochore who continues to grow each game and midfielder Zac Simpson who showed plenty of intent.
Taradale coach Boyd Carswell agreed that the ‘first half was messy and Central applied plenty of pressure which we failed to respond to”.
In the second half “direct running and a dominant set piece got us over the gain line which allowed our backs to show how good they can be”.
Jacob Ward had a huge game marking Magpies prop Joel Hint in what was his first game as a loosehead prop while Caleb Makene looked assured at first five in scoring a hat trick.
Josh Eden-Whatiri and experienced midfielder Nathan Ramsey were others to shine for the ‘Dale.
Taradale manager Tim Combs was quick to praise converted flanker-come-winger Majella Tufaga as their player of the match as he proved lethal on attack, scoring a great individual try and setting up a number of others while showing a real presence on defence.
TRSC 54 (Jacob Baker 1 try, Majella Tufuga 1 try, Hemaua Samasoni 1 try, Trent Randall 1 try, Ollie Sapsford 1 try, Caleb Makene 3 tries & 1 conversion, Cameron Robinson 2 conversions & Brad Truesdale 4 conversions) CHB 21 (Warwick Slingsby 1 try, Finau Nimatasau 1 try, James Logan 1 try & Ruan De Lange 3 conversions)
Enviro Clean and Restoration MAC notched up their first win of the season after holding on to win against a fast finishing Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical.
MAC manager Anthony Morley was elated with their first win after two close losses saying “the team has taken a couple of matches to gel, but have now built the necessary confidence to express ourselves and play the attractive and open, exciting style that MAC have become renowned for.”
“This gives us great confidence heading in to a huge challenge against HRS next week”.
Morley singled out MAC’s inspirational captain Willy Benson for praise while others to perform well were halfback Johnny Ika and classy Magpie first five Lincoln McClutchie.
For Napier Tech, manager Cyril Whitburn named inspirational ex Magpie Trent Boswell-Wakefield their best while another ex-Magpie Penikolo Latu, scored three tries in the second half to put the Texans within reach.
“We have a huge injury count with another three today, but all the players are giving 100 per cent and you cannot fault their efforts.”
M.A.C 32 (John Ika 1 try, Tom Iosefo 1 try, Roger Paewai 1 try, Paul Bickle 1 try, Lincoln McClutchie 3 conversions & 2 penalties) NTOB 31 (Penikolo Latu 3 tries, Xavier McCorkindale 1 try, Martin Watson 3 conversions
Havelock North beat Tamatea 73-20 at Bill Matheson Park which saw Blues loose forward Tony Lamborn turn out for the Villagers. For Havelock North Magpies wider training squad midfielder Anzelo Tuitavuki crossed for a couple of tries while long serving winger Mikey Vuicakau also grabbed a double.
Tamatea never gave up and midfielders Jordan Harmer and Dennon Robinson and number 8 Ivan Bellamy were players to stand out.
Havelock North 73 (Matthew Hill 1 try, Anzelo Tuitavuki 2 tries, Ben Morgan 1 try, Kalin Paewai 1 try, Mikey Vuicakau 2 tries, Tony Lamborn 1 try, Howard Lole 1 try, Matthew Phillips 1 try, William McGoon 1 try, Matthew Hill 9 conversions) Tamatea 20 (Jordan Harmer 2 tries, Ash Robinson 2 conversions & 2 penalties)
A 14 men WIT Trust NOBM withstood a huge onslaught from Andrew Clark Tremains Clive to hold on for a thrilling 36-33 win.
After scoring in injury time the previous weekend NOBM are making a habit of leaving it late to secure victory as they made it hard on themselves by having flanker Povi Fatialofa being sent off for his second head high offence.
However, an excellent defensive shift led by inspirational captain Chris Johnson kept Clive out during a nail biting final 10 minutes. Others to play well for the victors were lock Alec Williams and young front rower Lee Moleli. For Clive the Hurricanes pair of lock Isaia Walker-Leawere and centre Jonah Lowe were excellent while ex St Johns College midfielder Duff Penitito scored two tries to keep the riversiders in touch.
NOBM 36 (Pouvi Fatialofa 2 tries, Migao Lauano 1 try, Michael Buckley 2 tries , Sami Lauano 1 try, Bain Champion 3 conversions) Clive 33 (Petra Kahui Ariki 1 try, Rocky Pohatu 1 try, Isaia Walker-Leawere 1 try , Duff Penetito 2 tries & Tianua Poto 4 conversions )