Illai Arona sets up an attack for Moerewa in his side’s heavy loss to Mid Northern at Hukerenui.
Photo / Michael Cunningham
A lack of discipline in just a quarter of the match cost Ngāti Hine Moerewa a mountain of points, but the boys hewn from the local valleys kept fighting back even after the scores had blown out.
There’s something frighteningly good about the team’s defence and what the Wayne Martin-coached side lacks in skills and attacking nous, it makes it up with supremely-organised rush defences.
Hosts Mid Northern won 54-24 in the Tyrepower Northland Premier Club rugby competition at Hukerenui on Saturday to sit in fourth place on the points table.
But the score flattered to deceive as the bulk of the tries came when Moerewa was down to 13 players in the third quarter and Mid Northern showed no mercy.
“You can’t play Mid Northern with 13 players. They are last year’s champs. They will make you pay, and they did. Our boys know that discipline let them down. Because they’ve had to defend with 13 players against such a good team, their fitness told,” Martin summed up the match succinctly.
Tighthead prop Craven Martin was sent to the naughty chair on the stroke of halftime for backchatting and fullback Joshua Davis followed suit not long after halftime after taking out a Mid Northern player without the ball.
Indiscretions aside, it became apparent just how flustered Mid Northern was at not being able to build their attacking patterns and find chinks in the Moerewa armour.
The visitors were not in awe of Mid Northern’s threats across the park and the fact the latter was the defending premier champions. They were more than capable of coping with their intensity and size up front in the first half.
Moerewa had parity in set piece play and had they the players with the x factor and executed their attacks a smidgen smarter, the final scores would have read much differently.
“We were in the fight in that first 40 and we know that Mid Northern was panicking, and then we gave them the opening and they took it with both hands. And when we got all our players back, we scored a couple of tries in the end,” Martin said.
“The boys showed heart in defence, and that’s what we ask them, week in, week out because for us as a club, it’s about the people back home, and each of our players represents people back home.
“A few players have come back from injury and with a couple of young boys I’d like to explore options and they try and pull off those 50-50 passes but today, they didn’t pay off.”
The key in the second half was the first 10 minutes, he said, and Mid Northern made them pay.
While not making excuses, Martin said last Thursday was his team’s first training in two weeks because of the weather so they were a little bit ill-prepared.
He said this week’s training would focus on defence, tidying up the 50-50s, and some of the boys reiterating what their roles were in general play.
Mid Northern skipper Jordan Le Vavasour said Moerewa brought a good, physical battle and his boys had to turn it on and make it happen in wet and slippery conditions.
“In the second half, we had to go back to basics, pin those corners and try and play on top of them, force errors and just playing in the right parts of the field. Having the numerical advantage helps, and being a bit fitter too helps, but it’s still work-on for us.
A minute’s silence was observed prior to kick-off in memory of Whangarei Boys’ High School student Karnin Ahorangi Petera who died in Abbey Caves last week.
Michael Davis drew first blood for Moerewa in the 13th minute and the score preceded a loose ball off a lineout inside the Mid Northern 22.
Lock Bodene Davis secured possession and patient build-up play saw the visitors dive over. But Mid Northern hit back through lock Allan Craig who fielded a loopy pass right in front of the posts and found a crevice through the Moerewa defence.
The pace of that attack disrupted Moerewa’s defensive alignment and all it took was for one player to fall off a tackle.
Mid Northern got their second try after wing Kiwi Duncan made a scything run down the left flank before offloading to flanker Zach Shanks who stepped inside and had too much gas to burn on the way to the try line.
Moerewa was next to dot down and at half time with the scores 14-12 in favour of the hosts, the game was anyone’s for the taking.
Up until losing two players to the bin, Moerewa was not only putting the shoulders in defence but turning the Mid Northern ball over in key areas of the field. It was very much in the fight.
And when the binned players returned to the field, Moerewa scored twice at the backend of the game, making them dangerous.
A slew of home-grown talent playing with such intensity and quality for the most part as to signal that the gap between them and everyone else is dangerously close.
Moerewa is typically happier with local flair.
In the other results, win-less Waipū was hammered 35-10 by Hikurangi, Kamo won 34-24 over Old Boys Marist, hosts Kerikeri edged Western Sharks 21-17, and Wellsford lost at home to Hora Hora 19-34.