Heartland Championship Week 4 - Bill Osborne Taonga
September 10, 2022, 2:30 pm
Poverty Bay RFU
10 - 12
Ngati Porou East Coast
Poverty Bay RFU
Referee: Andy Morton

Match Report

Coast master the wet
Both camps proud of effort in testing conditions

Wet-weather rugby is about intensity, pressure, urgency and accuracy.

And on Saturday in trying conditions, the Ngati Porou East Coast Kaupoi beat Civil Project Solutions Poverty Bay Weka 12-10 at Gisborne’s Rugby Park to take both the Bill Osborne Taonga and the Anaru “Skip” Paenga Memorial Shield.

The Coast had lost the PJ Sayers Cup to the Bay at Ruatoria on Queen’s Birthday Weekend. In contrast to that Whakarua Park game where the Bay scored seven tries to two and led 18-0 at halftime on the way to a 46-12 win, on Saturday the Coast scored two tries to the Bay’s one and led 7-3 at the break.

Of the 173 games the sides have played since 1918, the Bay have 126 wins and the Coast 42, with five draws. This Round 4 win in the Bunnings Warehouse Heartland Championship ranks among the most satisfying that the Sky Blues have taken in the past decade.

Bay head coach Miah Nikora’s side showed fighting qualities on a day very different — in terms of tactical requirements and style of play — from their one competition win to date, the 30-26 thriller against Wairarapa-Bush in Gisborne on August 27.

“I’m proud of the effort,” Nikora said.

“Our boys fought hard for 80 minutes in tough conditions and we created enough opportunities to win the game; a few things didn’t go our way.

“It wasn’t the easiest day on which to attack, but I thought we varied our game well. The sharing of the workload between forwards and backs was good to see.”

New Zealand Rugby and Poverty Bay patron Ian Kirkpatrick said that such was the defence and lack of space to be had in this clash and, indeed, in the modern game overall, it was now necessary to be flexible and mix things up in attack.

A moment of silence was observed on Saturday in remembrance of Kirkpatrick’s elder brother and former Poverty Bay representative lock David, former Tonga co-captain and Sky Sport rugby commentator Willie Los’e and Queen Elizabeth ll.

East Coast coach Hosea Gear was delighted at what the Sky Blues were able to achieve on the back of two training runs, one of which necessitated players taking a day off work.

“Both teams played really well,” he said.

Forward charge: Poverty Bay prop James Higgins tries to battle his way through committed Ngati Porou East Coast defence in the Heartland Championship game at Rugby Park on Saturday. The Coast won a thriller, 12-10. Picture by Paul Rickard


“We were fortunate to come away with a win, as that game could easily have gone the other way.”

Coast halfback Sam Parkes said: “As captain, I was just happy to get out of there with the win and four competition points.

“Our forwards were outstanding — I couldn’t be prouder of how well they handled and adapted to those conditions.”

Bay captain and lock Dan Law played strongly, as did others in the home team’s tight five.

“Derby games are always tough, no matter where teams are placed,” Law said.

“On the whole, our defence was outstanding. We were on our own goal-line for almost 28 minutes in the first half. We showed a lot of heart, more perhaps than we had all season to that point, but hats off to NPEC on their win. They fought hard right to the last minute.”

High drama was the order of the day before kick-off with girls’ under-13 teams on deck first up, Uawa beating Horouta 38-10, and the Lenny Ferris-Mitchell Purvis-coached Poverty Bay Turanga Mana Wahine 58-3 victors over the Ngati Porou Hamoterangi in the second curtain-raiser.

Parkes won the toss and chose to play from the city end with the gentle easterly breeze; NPEC received the ball.

Bay of Plenty referee Andrew Morton, who had controlled the game on Queen’s Birthday Weekend, again had a fine match. Both sides were marched an additional 10 metres from a whistle for “back chat” on occasion and yet he was even-handed in a tense situation with trophies, pride and a second win for both sides at stake.

The first shot was fired from kick-off, a great tackle from Bay lock Morgan Reedy causing big Coast No.8 Morgan Poi to lose the ball forward; the ferocity and accuracy of that hit set the tone for what followed at the first scrum.

NPEC won the first scrum-penalty on a big push and in short order, the first penalty in general play. The Coast dominated field position and possession from that time until the first drinks break, and came close to scoring on five occasions before the first drinks-break.

Incredibly, the scarlets’ left-footed fullback Moses Christie landed a 23m penalty goal from centreground half-an hour into the match Poverty Bay blindside flanker Adrian Wyrill, in support of rampaging tighthead prop James Higgins, had been brought down by NPEC loosehead prop Hakarangi Tichborne but not released by the tackler.

The Sky Blues first-five Carlos Kemp went long with the kick restart: Poverty Bay first-five-cum-halfack Ruan du Plooy, who otherwise had a solid game, lost the ball forward on his goal-line.

In the 32nd minute, the Coast scored the first try of the game from an attacking five-metre scrum set 18m in from the left corner.

Heavy work of high standard
Poi went openside off the back of the scrum for Parkes, Parkes found first five-eighth Carlos Kemp, and Kemp gave a super flick-pass to fullback Kris Palmer on the fly to score 12m in from the right corner.

Kemp converted the Kaupoi try, and the Coast led 7-3 at halftime.

Bulky, hard-running Higgins had a mighty game with ball-in-hand from go to whoa, whoa in this case being the 68th minute. An injury to Higgins’s right foot meant another scrum-anchor, Lance Dickson, then entered the fray.

The lineout battle was a fairly even contest and some of the line-kicking from Kemp and others was of a high standard. A game of rugby does not always have to be played at frenetic pace to be entertaining or enjoyable. The Coast’s rolling maul is a grand weapon, and the Bay midfield of Jacob Leaf and Teddy Walters — though they had relatively few touches — did look as likely as any to break the game open.

Three minutes after the resumption, NPEC scored through Tichborne. From an attacking scrum set 20m out from the Bay’s goal-line, 15m off the right touch, the visitors went left over three phases through right wing Junior Time-Taotua, Poi and lock Richie Green before Tichborne heaved across — six metres in from the corner — despite the attention of both Poverty Bay second-row forwards.

Kemp could not convert. The Bay struck the next blow, with a try to hooker Shayde Skudder in the 60th minute from a five-metre attacking lineout in the right corner. Reedy, jumping at No.2, won the ball without challenge. Skudder joined the ensuing drive and got to ground with control eight metres in from the flag.

Christie converted the try to close it to 12-10, the final score.

Poverty Bay retain the PJ Sayers Cup but they lost both the Anaru “Skip” Paenga Memorial Cup and the Bill Osborne Taonga that they defended here against the Bush in Game 1. On that day, they retained the Jeremy David Memorial Cup and they have no doubt started to take stock quickly. Loyal fans turned out for the derby match in the wet; far more may turn out to see the now-10th-placed Bay (five competition points) take on Heartland Rugby’s No.2 team, Whanganui (16 points) in Gisborne at 2.30pm this Saturday.

Civil Project Solutions Poverty Bay 10 (Shayde Skudder try; Moses Christie pen, con)
Ngati Porou East Coast Kaupoi 12 (Kris Palmer, Hakarangi Tichborne, tries; Carlos Kemp con)
HT: 7-3 (NPEC).


Name TR CON PEN DG Cards
2 1
1532 Dan Law (c)
1512 Jacob Leaf
15 1 1


Name TR CON PEN DG Cards
1497 Rikki Terekia Shayde Skudder
1541 Tulsa Kaui Toru Noanoa
1427 Lance Dickson James Higgins
1520 Fletcher Scammell Morgan Reedy
1448 Tamanui Hill Jesse Kapene
1366 Kelvin Muir Smith Mario Counsell
1548 Mitchell Purvis Jacob Leaf
1456 Hunter Mokomoko Tione Hubbard