HK hopeful for home game
It is now or never for Horowhenua-Kapiti after a third straight loss in the Heartland Championship rugby competition.
Saturday's 32-10 loss to King Country in Taupo leaves H-K bottom of the 12-team table, with zero points from three matches, and five points below Mid Canterbury, Poverty Bay and this week's opponents Thames Valley.
Coach Jared Tanira is hoping the significance of hooker Keith Milligan making his 100th Horowhenua-Kapiti appearance will inspire the team to lift their game this Saturday at the Paraparaumu Domain.
He said while the rugby union would look to make Milligan's day one to remember, it was up to the players to mark the occasion with a win.
''On Saturday against King Country, everything went wrong. We didn't play the way we wanted to and were well beaten,'' he said.
Antony Fox scored H-K's only try, while Sonny McBride kicked a conversion and a penalty.
''Everything we'd talked about, the ways we want to play, it just didn't happen. So they guys are having a long hard think about that and what we want to do now this season.''
Tanira said the team would look to get back into finals contention this weekend against Thames Valley, and couldn't ask for better motivation.
''For the younger guys in the team, they can look at Keith and see what hard work and effort can do for you.
''You have to be very good, very talented to make 100 games for any team. There aren't too many in the whole competition who have done it. It's very special.''
The team may be eager and willing to give Milligan the perfect centurion gift, but an injury cloud hovers over some of the key members.
Michael Tambour and Tainui Brown suffered minor injuries on Saturday, but are hopeful to play against Thames Valley.
The prognosis is worse for loose forward Casey Watson, who is out for the season with a serious knee injury.
''It's sad for Casey because he'd been one of the better players in the team. That, and he had one of the better attitudes in the squad.
''It's always a shame when people get injured, especially when they have such a great work ethic and desire to play.''
Sam Gardener stepped into Watson's spot on Saturday, playing the full 80 minutes and impressing the coach.
Tanira said another factor which should help his team this weekend will be their good record in Paraparaumu.
H-K haven't lost in Paraparaumu since 2008, a 15-13 loss to West Coast, although they have only played at the ground twice since then.
''It's a good ground for us. Hopefully some of the Pram boys will step up being at home. It's added incentive to perform well.''
H-K host Thames Valley at 2.30pm Saturday, at the Paraparaumu Domain.
- Kapiti Observer