Patea primed to tackle size three chickens

About eight months ago they did not even exist, being just a whisper on the lips of some dedicated rugby men in Patea.

Today, the Patea Rugby & Sports Club has the opportunity to bring a Taranaki championship back to town for the first time since 1991.

After ending its 16-year amalgamation with Waverley-based Border, which now sends its top side to Whanganui, the senior third-grade squad swapped to the Patea blue jersey to play at their domain.

It has been a great success story of the rugby year, with a strong turnout of players and excited home crowds on the sideline.

They today face the cast iron chicken favourites, Tukapa, in the final of the senior third grade.

Player and Patea constable Dennis Byijtendijk says being one squad from one town has helped the team bond.

"That's Patea in a nutshell.

"We've had some outstanding crowds at home.

"Go for a walk up town on the Sunday, the number of people who tap you on the back for a chat about the game is phenomenal.

Player and assistant coach Thomas Werder said: "On old-timers day the clubrooms was chokka - players from way back turned up."

Coach Dean Hurley said the "roar" of the blue Patea jersey helped motivate the players after the demise of the Border team.

Having their own club committee, the team could bring down a generator to power the domain lights for training, much better than the glorified touch-rugby sessions in the dark of a year before.

Make no mistake, despite the Cinderella story, Tukapa are still odds-on to upset the festivities - the New Plymouth team having handed Patea two of their three losses this season.

They have plenty of players with senior A experience, while Patea's squad is made up of first-timers, 30-year veterans and those who have not played since school.

Still, Byijtendijk said it all meant little on the day.

"Finals is finals, 15 on 15.

"To get to the final is pretty massive in itself, but to carry it off would be special."

By Thursday, 24 supporters had booked for the bus trip and Patea are hoping some Coastal rugby fans might also cheer for them.

Taranaki Daily News