Little Tu Toa face big hurdle
When the first XVs from Palmerston North Boys' High School and Tai Wananga-Tu Toa clash tomorrow, it will be as big as it gets in Manawatu schools rugby.
It will be just the second time they have met after Boys' High won their national knockout game 18-8 at Arena Manawatu last year.
This time it will be a home game for Boys' High at 12.30pm at their North St ground.
While Boys' High have hit a golden patch, Tu Toa have had a mixed season and lost 32-0 to Feilding High School in their only other clash with another Manawatu school.
Since then Bryan Matenga has left the coaching team of Whitiaua Black and John Kendal. They have since worked on getting their exciting backs to use their natural Maori flair.
Kendal knows all about Boys' High rugby; he was a teacher there until last year.
"My loyalties are here now," he said.
"We're clearly the underdogs; we'll go out and throw the kitchen sink and everything we've got into it.
"Every team is beatable. We will be out to represent ourselves and our whanau."
Of late, Tu Toa, who pick their first XV from just 24 players, have been playing in the Manawatu under-21 competition and Kendal is looking forward to schools football.
"We do miss the speed and intensity of good first XV rugby."
Losing their scrum cornerstone, prop Sean Paranihi, to Auckland private school St Kentigern College has left a bitter taste. St Kent's had an injury to a prop and plucked Paranihi instead of delving into their second XV.
Tu Toa had also heard Paranihi was going to the Canterbury academy after he was spotted playing for Tu Toa at the Christchurch Boys' High School tournament. He had been picked for next week's Hurricanes under-18 camp, but is now off to the Blues camp.
Gone too from Tu Toa is halfback Sean Fitzgerald after being suspended for 24 weeks for a punch in a colts game.
Even without them, Tu Toa will still have a burly forward pack.
Meanwhile, Boys' High are missing only Roydon Miller (concussion) with captain Hayden Spencer returning from injury after missing the past two triumphs, over St Pat's Silverstream and Tauranga Boys' College.
They have a slight injury concern over nonstop lock Liam Giltrap, a rarity at the Hurricanes under-18 camp as a year 12 student.
Boys' High's star back, Jackson Ferris, just a 15-year-old, has now been called into the Hurricanes camp after initially being left out. He is bound to be part of the first XV's wide game tomorrow.
The winner will play New Plymouth's Francis Douglas Memorial College, even though Taranaki has switched to the Chiefs' region. Francis Douglas had their first loss on Wednesday, 30-10 at home to St Pat's Town (Wellington).
Feilding High School are away to Wanganui Collegiate School in their Central North Island competition tomorrow.
Feilding will be out to recover from their boilover 19-12 loss to Lindisfarne College at Hastings last week while Collegiate had two games in their quadrangular tournament at Nelson during the week.
Feilding play their first national co-ed competition game against Wairarapa at Masterton on Wednesday, July 30.
PNBHS 1st XV: 15 Taylor Transom, 14 Jackson Ferris, 13 Shadyn Osgood, 12 Taare Ferris (vc), 11 Ben Werthmuller, 10 Matt Maoate, 9 Lee Thomson; 8 Hayden Spencer (captain), 7 James Kellow, 6 Brayden Iose, 5 Jeremy Dobson, 4 Liam Giltrap, 3 Josh Greer, 2 Mitchell Transom, 1 Beau Robertson. Reserves: 16 Scott Wheeler, 17 Tevita Fehoko, 18 Matene Ruawai, 19 Fabien Kiri, 20 Ben Kenny, 21 Liam Emery, 22 Alex Priest.
Tu Toa 1st XV: 15 Toangina Nikora-Davis, 14 Josiah Nolan, 13 Jaycob Wiggins-Gray, 12 Elijah Hapeta-Te Kura, 11 Lachlan Blackstock, 10 Bailey Taylor, 9 Shae Gray, 8 Keanu Moke, 7 Patohe Third, 6 Tikara Kerehoma, 5 Branden Hapi, 4 Taihakurei Durie, 3 Alex Johnson, 2 Jeremy Campbell, 1 Ihaka Te Paki. Reserves: 16 TBC, 17 Matthew Honotapu, 18 Te Kaha Tahana, 19 Tyler Moeau, 20 Connor Paki, 21 Tyson Perenara-Sola, 22 Adrian Fou.