Midway through the championship season, Poverty Bay had recorded just one win from four games and morale was low enough for the focus to turn from targeting a semi-final position to avoiding being the cellar-dwellers of the lowest division. As the team went through their pre-match warm-up at Levin, management commented on the lack of pride and desire in wearing the scarlet jersey, with several club players showing little interest in rep rugby.
Ninety minutes later attitudes had changed dramatically. Poverty Bay had not only defeated the losing 2002 finalist but, in doing so, had also won the Lochore Cup – the Ranfurly Shield of the third division. The visitors had raced away with a commanding lead in the first half although Horowhenua Kapiti later got back into the game and when Nepia scored a try right on full-time, his conversion could level the scores and retain the challenge trophy. To the delight of Poverty Bay and sorrow of the home team and crowd, the kick shaved the outside of the upright.
For the first time in the history of the union, Poverty Bay had a national trophy to defend. All of a sudden Gisborne and the region were buzzing as confidence and support in the local team was boosted. The following week Poverty Bay retained the Lochore Cup by beating the eventual divisional champions, Wanganui, 36-22. In the last round-robin match Buller was sent home without reward, beaten 37-12.
The two successful home defences had also secured a previously unexpected semi-final berth. But against King Country, at Taupo, Poverty Bay, having command of both possession and territory, could not breach the defence and lost by two penalty goals. A feature of Poverty Bay’s round-robin scores was that in each match the team bettered their previous points total.
Willie Lardelli was the side’s outstanding player, with he and flanker Fili Leato being responsible for the first-half scoring blitz at Levin. Lardelli made three brilliant breaks in midfield, scored from the first, while Leato was at his shoulder after the other breaks to take the pass and score. Loan player Aayden Clarke was introduced for the Horowhenua Kapiti game and in this and the following games he organised the backs well and his astute tactical kicking gained valuable metres. A big contributor in the team’s change of fortunes, he unfortunately had an off day with his goal-kicking in the semi-final.
For number eight Thomas Solomon, the responsibility of captaincy was made much easier with the Lochore Cup motivating the team. Toka Liku was an excellent flanker and at lock the experienced Jamie Hutana, Fiahra Lennon and Joe Savou dominated the lineouts and worked hard in scrums and general play. Robert Tata, Josh Maynard and Matt Burt formed a solid front-row.
Andrew Willock returned at halfback having last represented in 1999. Outside Clarke, Ben de Klerk, a South African doctor, was an excellent link with Lardelli. Of the other backs, Mosese Paunga, John Brown, Asiveni Lutumailagi and Warren Banks each contributed to the success of the cup matches. Of the previous year’s backs, highly promising winger Hosea Gear went to North Harbour and Kahu Tamatea to East Coast.
|11 Oct, 2:30 pm||A||King Country||S/F NPC 3rd Div||06 - 00|
|04 Oct, 2:30 pm||H||Buller||NPC 3rd Div||37 - 12|
|27 Sep, 2:30 pm||H||Wanganui||NPC 3rd Div||36 - 22|
|20 Sep, 2:30 pm||A||Horowhenua-Kapiti||NPC 3rd Div||26 - 28|
|13 Sep, 2:30 pm||A||King Country||NPC 3rd Div||43 - 26|
|06 Sep, 2:30 pm||H||West Coast||NPC 3rd Div||21 - 15|
|30 Aug, 2:30 pm||A||Wairarapa Bush||NPC 3rd Div||28 - 15|
|23 Aug, 2:30 pm||A||South Canterbury||NPC 3rd Div||31 - 10|
|09 Aug, 2:30 pm||H||East Coast||Pre-Season||14 - 17|
|Ben de Klerk||Center||n/a||n/a||9|
|J.F. Fili Leota||Flanker||n/a||n/a||6|
|T.Toka Liku||Lock/Loose Forward||n/a||n/a||9|
|Sione Ngatu||Flanker/No.8, Prop||186||115||7|
We hope you enjoy this look back as we look forward to many more years of recording the history of Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union.
We acknowledge all the information from the NZ “Rugby Almanack” Series from 1934 and appreciate their hard and dedicated work in providing this detailed history. – Web Admin—