With senior club rugby completed for the 2019 season, and with Taylors Wanderers Rugby Club’s desire to field a team next season in the Under-18 championship, it was a golden opportunity on Saturday for some Wanderers supporters and sponsors to view the up-and-coming young players in the area.
The Waimea College Under-16 team hosted Motueka High School in the Tasman age-grade competition, on Saturday.
In perfect conditions the good crowd was treated to a fine game, with both teams contributing manfully.
Waimea started with a period of 15 minutes of almost complete dominance, scoring two good tries through excellent continuity play, moving Motueka around from left to right then back again, with Motueka unable to get out of their own territory.
However, after 15 minutes, Motueka gained an ascendency and a fine break out by their centre saw play carry into the Waimea 22, where Motueka stayed until eventually scoring a fully-deserved try.
The forward exchanges were even, but Waimea had a slight edge when moving the ball due to better support play, and another try was scored just prior to halftime, which arrived with the score at 17-5 to Waimea College.
A feature of play with age grade rugby is the half game rule, introduced by New Zealand Rugby in 2014 in an effort to improve game time for all players and address low retention rates especially among teenager participants.
This requires all teams below 1stXV level to ensure that all team members play at least half the match, encouraging better coaching methods and often improved team spirit.
Substitutions can be made at each quarter of the match.
Waimea did appear to have an advantage in the second half where they again dominated early and scored three additional tries to get out to a 36-5 lead.
Motueka again stormed back with two fine team tries of their own to close to 36-17.
An outstanding team try that flowed almost the full length of the field following a turnover, and some interaction between backs and forwards, resulted in fullback, Flynn Goedert diving over in the corner.
A final try, following an excellent offload from the ground by lock Callum Stuart, took the score out to 46-17 and the game ended without any further change.
Waimea College can be rightly satisfied with the performance, scoring eight tries through hard running, good support and variation of play.
Undoubtedly, they will want to address the tardy defence that allowed Motueka on five occasions to regather dropped balls unhindered behind the advantage line, due to no pressure by the defence.
That will need to improve before playing Marlborough Boys’ College on Saturday in the last round of the TRU Cup before the winner progresses to the final the following week.
Coaches Gus Shirley and Shane Huhu were happy with the standard of play, considering that it was the first game for three weeks, following the recent holidays, especially the manner in which the backs and forwards linked together.
The team has a motto this year; ‘better each week’, and each week the team has improved, both in performance but more importantly in understanding, with a number of players demonstrating a personal growth that should allow them to play at a higher level in 2020.
Player of the Day, Callum Little, ran hard and challenged the Motueka defence all day even though against one of Motueka’s better players.
Callum Stuart at lock also was acknowledged for his tireless work in the tight, where his commitment and decision-making were very good.
Lucien Takimoana was also mentioned for his endeavours, again in the tight exchanges and scrummaging, and his progress during the season confirms the team motto, as he is definitely getting better each week.
The ‘two Lukes’, Luke Brown and Luke Shirley, directed play well in the halves and Brown’s service was sharp and accurate, allowing time and space for all the backs to show their skills.
Up front, Cameron Black, Lawson Ingles and Thomas Bailey were a formidable back row and Noah Fraser and Bailey Basalaj impressed as impact players, but it really was a complete team performance.
A better performance in Blenheim on Saturday will see the team into the final and that would be a wonderful but deserved result for the work done this year.
The Wanderers Club sends best wishes to the team.
This week will see a full round of games at Centennial Park and Lord Rutherford for the Taylors Wanderers JAB teams, with 10 games between 9.30am and 12.30pm.
Full entertainment guaranteed.
Upcoming events at the club will include the Senior Prizegiving on Saturday, August 24 with Ian Kirkpatrick as guest speaker, and the JAB Prizegiving on August 30 with All Blacks loosie Liam Squire in attendance.