Heartland Championship Week 5
September 17, 2022, 2:30 pm
Poverty Bay RFU
24 - 32
Poverty Bay RFU
Referee: Angus Mabey

Match Report

‘A massive effort’ made by Wekas
Bay show they foot it with the best in the competition.

BACK IN FRONT: Poverty Bay Shayde Skudder scores a hard-earned try to put his team ahead of Whanganui in a Heartland Championship match in Gisborne on Saturday. The Wekas fought to the end but fell 32-24 to a side who beat them by 50 points last year. Picture by Paul Rickard

Poverty Bay fell just short as they went down 32-24 to second-placed Whanganui in Week 5 of the Heartland Championship at Rugby Park on Saturday.

Civil Project Solutions Poverty Bay Wekas fought hard and earned a bonus point for scoring four tries to be sitting 10th on the 12-province table on six points, while Whanganui are second on 21, three points behind leaders South Canterbury.

Wekas head coach Miah Nikora said there were some final passes in the first half that just didn’t go their way.

“Maybe if we had capitalised on those we might have had a different result but in saying that, I think the boys would’ve taken a lot of belief out of today.

“Whanganui are a top team who traditionally have been in the top four year, in and year out. So that gives us a lot of belief that we can foot it with the best in the competition — massive effort.”

This was a game that could have gone either way, with the scoreboard see-sawing throughout.

“The forwards laid a really good platform for us from set-pieces and we were able to get some good stuff going for our backs to get over the gain line frequently from the first phase,” Nikora said.

“There were a lot of positives, we are finally seeing our game going and seeing some good weather.

“We did not get a lot out of this (points-wise) . . . but we can take a lot from it in terms of belief and momentum moving forward.”

Whanganui head coach Jason Hamlin said the Wekas played extremely well and his side were relieved to head home with the win and maximum five points.

“They would’ve been disappointed with losing the taonga (Bill Osborne Taonga to Ngāti Porou East Coast) last week,” Hamlin said.

“This is probably a truer reflection from them with the effort and heart they put in it.”

He was disappointed with his side’s execution but put some of it down to the pressure the Wekas put them under.

“We didn’t treasure the ball enough today.”

TRY OPENER: Poverty Bay wing Te Peehi Fairlie scored the first try in the early stages of his blazer game against Whanganui on Saturday at Rugby Park. Whanganui managed to get the win but Poverty Bay made them work for it in a close confrontation. Picture by Paul Rickard

The Wekas, who were thrashed 65-12 by Whanganui in 2021, made an early statement on Saturday.

From a ruck five metres from the tryline in the eighth minute, first five Kelvin Smith threw a miss-out pass to winger Te Peehi Fairlie who, in his blazer (30th) game for the Bay managed to ground the ball in the tackles of two Whanganui players.

Whanganui responded a minute later — second five Timoci Seruwalu picking up the ball from the base of the ruck and running straight through to the tryline.

Fullback Ethan Robinson knocked over the conversion to put the visitors in front.

From there, the game was an even battle as both teams threw everything at each other.

Whanganui were reduced to 14 in the 29th minute after winger Tyler Rogers-Holden was sinbinned for holding on in the tackle.

But they were the next to score. Centre Kameli Kuruyabki reaching out and pounding the ball over the line when tackled just short after finding a gap in the Wekas’ defence.

Robinson converted for 14-5.

Back came the Wekas. They forced their way into the Whanganui 22 and after multiple phases, openside flanker Keanu Taumata crashed over with the help of prop Toru Noana.

Whanganui went into the halftime break up 14-10 and Robinson made it 17-10 early in the second spell with a penalty kick.

Seven minutes into the half, Whanganui were caught napping by blindside flanker Adrian Wyrill, who pounced on loose ball from a ruck and sent it out to the backs.

Christie got the ball on the flank and as he was forced over the sideline he threw it inside. Centre Mitch Purvis kicked it on and into the in-goal area, and dived on the ball for the try.

Smith, taking over the kicking duties, slotted a superb sideline conversion to tie it up 17-all.

Another Robinson penalty put the visitors three ahead.

The Wekas lost Taumata to a yellow card for a leg trip but that only spurred them on.

From a lineout on the Whanganui five-metre line in the 61st minute, they drove powerfully and with a final push, hooker Shayde Skudder went over.

Another brilliant Smith conversion made it 24-20 to the home side and an upset was brewing.

Whanganui had other ideas. They quickly made their way into Wekas territory and Robinson was put into a gap to score in the 63rd minute.

His unsuccessful conversion left the score at 25-24 to Whanganui.

With the tension leving high going into the last 15 minutes, Whanganui pressed again but the Wekas refused to yield time and again.

Finally, in the 73rd minute, No.8 Semi Vodosese found his way through for the try and Robinson’s conversion put them beyond the seven-point margin.

The Wekas had a chance in the dying stages when they were awarded a penalty handily placed to the posts.

Three points would have earned them a losing bonus point for finishing within seven points or less, but they chose to run it, reserve loose forward Niko Lauti crossed the line but referee ruled a shepherd and blew fulltime.

The Wekas are on the road this Saturday to face competition leaders South Canterbury in Waimate.


Name TR CON PEN DG Cards
1532 Dan Law (c)
5 2
6 1
1512 Jacob Leaf
9 1 Yellow Card
12 1
14 1


Name TR CON PEN DG Cards
1427 Lance Dickson Jordan McFarlane
1520 Fletcher Scammell Morgan Reedy
1448 Tamanui Hill Jesse Kapene
1347 Mario Counsell Ruan A. du Plooy
1525 Kesomi (Niko) Lauti Keanu Taumata
1545 Ricardo Patricio Kelvin Muir Smith
1541 Tulsa Kaui Toru Noanoa
1397 Ethine Snowden Reeves Jacob Leaf