Hawks handle wind and cold better than Cobras
The Hawera Hawks handled the blustery conditions best to down the Coastal Cobras 48-18 on a bitterly cold night in Hawera last Friday.
In the first night game of the season, the Hawks picked up their fifth win of the season in the Taranaki premier rugby league competition.
Both teams struggled at times with their handling, and kicks were heavily affected by the wind. The Cobras were the first to score when impressive second rower Ross McLachlan slithered on to a Darren Parata chip-kick to the corner.
The Hawks hit back with three quick tries to lead 16-4 after 20 minutes. Hard-working Coastal centre Jason Rankin scored out wide to close the gap, but the Hawks finished the half stronger with two tries, the first an outstanding individual effort by hooker Waka Wanahi, who jinked his way past several would-be tacklers to score handy to the posts.
The second was scored by young second rower Jared Kumeroa-McKenna. Both were converted and the home side went to the break ahead 28-8.
Hawera opened the scoring in the second half with a try to standoff Josh Makea, followed by a slick team try finished by big centre Dominic Maraki to make it 38-8. Coastal kept trying and were rewarded with a try out wide to replacement winger Malcolm Robinson. Hawera came back with two more tries, another one to Wanahi who ran 55 metres to score in the corner and one to prop Wiremu Brown-Hori. Coastal had the last say with a second try to Robinson, converted by Herewini Karena.
For the Hawks, fullback Rikki Gardner had another solid outing, capping a fine game with a try and six goals, no mean feat in tricky conditions. Maraki was a handful while Makea directed play well.
In the forwards, Wanahi had an outstanding game while second rower Karlin Ross toiled hard.
For Coastal, Robinson impressed when sent to the wing for injury cover, scoring two good tries, while Ross McLachlan had several strong carries.
In Saturday's top-of-the-table clash, the Waitara Bears hosted the Bell Block Marist Dragons at Waitara's Clifton Park.
In what turned out to be one of the best defensive efforts by both teams, the first half was an arm wrestle as both teams tried to gain the ascendancy. The Dragons scored first through experienced centre Chris Cassidy who crashed over out wide for Marist to lead 4-0, with Ale Feaunati scoring to make it 8-0.
The second half was a great spectacle, with both teams scoring three tries each. Marist extended their lead through a try to centre Isaac Hekenui, who was a handful out wide, to lead 12-0, then Bears fullback Chance Te Uira scored an outstanding individual try as he beat four would-be tacklers down the left flank to score out wide.
Marist came back when Feaunati scored his second wide out, which was converted by Dylan Hall to push the score out to 18-4.
The Bears hit back in style with quick tries by Cruze Rauner and Chalice O'Carroll to close the gap to 18-12. Inevitably, it was the Bears' poor handling that let them down, with Marist hooker Dejay Martin scooping up a dropped ball to scamper away for a try under the posts.
For the Dragons, fullback Whetu Cameron was solid at the back, while Feaunati, Hekenui and right-wing Taani Prestney carried the ball strongly. In the forwards, Nathan Ransfield made several strong carries.
For the Bears, prop James Waru made several strong charges while Jaxon Tamati and Henare O'Carroll worked hard. In the backs, Te Uira and Rauner had their moments.
The Western Suburbs Tigers had the bye. The Bears take on the Hawks this Saturday at Waitara's Clifton Park, with the Tigers at home to the Coastal Cobras at the Ngamotu Domain in New Plymouth. The Dragons have the bye.
Scorers: Page 17
Taranaki Daily News