Try as they might, this was bad

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 09:39 01/03/2014

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The 2013 Taranaki rugby side grabbed an unenviable record that had not been bettered for 92 years.

The release of the 2014 Rugby Almanack highlighted it in the book's first summation of last year's Taranaki season.

"Except for the war years, one has to go back to 1921 to find when Taranaki scored less than 14 tries in a season and also when the top try-scorer only scored two tries in a year," the authors wrote.

In what was a rather brief summation of their national provincial championship season, the only time the side played first class matches, the almanack, recognised as the main record of New Zealand rugby, recorded little to be enthused about Taranaki's play.

"True, Taranaki had lost some key players from the previous year, but key players give an advantage at the edge, they are not at the heart of a team. Even so, this Taranaki team still fielded 11 players with Super Rugby experience."

Taranaki ended the NPC season with three wins from 10 matches, giving the side 14 points and sixth place in the premiership division. They were 14 points off fourth placed Counties Manukau at the end of the round-robin.

The almanack noted Kane Barrett had a tough task taking over from inspirational captain Craig Clarke, who departed for Ireland after leading Chiefs to back-to-back Super Rugby titles.

"If he [Barrett] has learned from this season it will have been a good investment for he has a bright future."

There were also questions raised as to why halfback Jamison Gibson-Park did not get more starting opportunities.

Gibson-Park started just three of Taranaki's 10 games.

On a brighter note, young Taranaki and Chiefs hooker Rhys Marshall was named as one of five promising players of the year alongside Hawke's Bay lock Mark Abbott, Bay Of Plenty prop Kane Hames, Canterbury wing Milford Keresoma and fellow Canterbury first five-eighth Richard Mo'unga.

"He quickly demonstrated that he was at home in the rarefied atmosphere of Super Rugby with a try in his second game and time on the field in the victorious semifinal and final.

"He started behind two international hookers in the Chiefs squad and still attracted favourable comment from the national selectors."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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