Rep Rugby Round Up: 19 September

A number of Manawatu Representative sides have been in action of the previous weeks with a large portion of them playing pre season fixtures leading into their respective competitions.

Manawatu Cyclones

The Manawatu Cyclones have had two pre season fixtures against Wellington's 50 Woman squad and Hawke's Bay. Both games were very much targeted at development with an opportunity for players to show their hand and to try a number of combinations. Whilst no one really kept the score, Manawatu did officially lose these matches. The Cyclones then moved onto the their first competition match at Bell Park in Pakuranga where they would play Auckland. A daunting task for any team. Manawatu would record their first ever win against the Acuklanders 44-17 to set the scene for an exiting season. This was followed by a return trip to Auckland where the team would travel to play Counties Manukau in Pukekohe, with high hopes the team started incredibly well and all looked promising for a repeat victory, however the second halt the team played in the Counties much larger forward pack and conceded late tries to fall 31-22 final score. The third match would be Bay of Plenty at home at CET Arena, the underestimated BoP lead by former Manawatu player Christie Yule would lead early in the second half after Selica Winiata scored her 100th first class try becoming the first woman to do so. Manawatu would claw their way back into the match to take a bonus point victory 22-10.

Manawatu Development
The Manawatu Developmen side have had three fixtures with one being a competition match against Wellington Maori and the previous two against pre season opponents Wairarapa Bush and Horowhenua Kapiti.

Against Horowhenua Kapiti the Manawatu Development team started the game energetically and were particularly abrasive in the contact zone on both sides of the ball.  This forced the opposition into errors and they struggled to clear their half.  The pressure counted with two well taken tries in the opening quarter.  In a portent of things to come, Horowhenua Kapiti exerted some pressure of their own and skipped through some lazy close defence to open their account.  We replied with another try of our own to extend our lead again only for the opposition to work a front of the line out move to score another on the stroke of half time.  15-14 at oranges. 

The second half was a tit for tat affair.  We would work our way into our attack zone, score superb team tries of the back of an  effective set piece, only to allow the visitors to piggy back their way in to our 22 with penalties and reply in kind.  Of particular concern was the fact they were scoring through the heart of our defensive line with poor one on one tackle execution.  There was plenty of intent and we had chances to close the game out but poor handling meant points were left out on the field.  In the end the Heartland team ran over top of us and prevailed 29 - 40

The following week the Manawatu Development team concluded its preseason with a hit out against the Wairarapa Bush Heartland team.  Having made some adjustments through the week following the last game, the team was keen to continue its progress before the Hurricanes Shield campaign kicks off.  Most of the first half was played between the 22's with neither side really dominating possession or territory.  The defense of Manawatu showed some sting and was forcing the opposition into mistakes.  However we were unable to capitalize on them with errant decision making and set piece issues of our own.  Wairarapa opened the scoring when the seas departed from a scrum and the blind side winger strolled in untouched.  In reply our forwards aimed up and started getting good go forward allowing the backs a little more time and space and the combinations started clicking.  We were able to score two tries in the first half to take a 14-7 lead into oranges, despite having played into the wind. 
The second half saw our defense increase it's intensity as our line speed and alignment improved.  We put more emphasis on being menaces at the breakdown and this resulted in subsequent turn overs.  Our backs continued to develop their combinations and we crossed the line for three second half tries.  Final Score 31-7. 
Our next game is against Wellington Maori in what promises to be a very physical and flowing encounter.  Continued emphasis on our defensive structures will be vital.

The Development team kicked of their Hurricanes Shield campaign with a first up game against Wellington Maori.  The game started well with a concerted period on attack resulting in 2 penalties.  Then in a sign of things to come, the defense line started to buckle as the Wellington runners started to make easy yards through the middle.  A converted try to Wellington bought them back into the game and they started to win the territory battle.  Our set piece was functioning well but we were guilty of handling errors before we got to first phase and so were unable to concert any pressure for extended periods of time on a consistent basis.  We managed to score a try of a well executed kick return to have the lead 11-7 at the half. 
The second half started poorly as we were unable to hold onto the ball and once again were missing tackles.  Wellington scored two tries to jump out to a 21-11 lead before we got one back to close the gap.  Then we switched of defensively again and allowed two more soft tries.  We finished the game positively and managed to claw one try back but the final score was 35 - 21 to Wellington Maori.  The tale of the game was the 47 missed tackles and the soft tries that were scored as a result.  This coupled with handling errors at key times meant we were always under pressure of our own creation.

Manawatu Under 19

After a reasonably positive start against Taranaki where the game was lost but the match was quality and Manawatu showed some real grit and determination the team went into their first competition game against Hurricanes Heartland on a sloppy CET Arena Field 3 which made for a diffcult game, the larger heartland pack would have the edge in the mud. Manawatu opened their account with a penalty to Jackson Scully, however following that the larger Heartland pack went to work and dominated possession, this lead to two tries of which one was converted, the low scoring affair was always likely given the state of the ground, it became a game of who could hold the ball the longest. 12-3 was the final score to Hurricanes Heartland.

Manawatu then travelled to a much drier Johnston Park to face Hawke's Bay, this match would be the key decider as to who would play in the Top 8 at the National Tournament and who would play in the Bottom 8. Manawatu agains looked the smaller of the two sides and that showed, too many missed tackles on larger opposition and Lincoln McClutchie playing at 10 for Hawke's Bay down form the Magpies certainly helped their case. Hawke's Bay took the win 31-12 leaving Manawatu to fight for the Bottom 8 section at the Jock Hobbs U19 National tournament.

Manawatu played Wellington in their final seeding match and started well, they applied pressure on Wellington early however as time wore on the larger Wellington side gained the upper hand and controlled the game out wide giving them a 64-12 victory.

Manawatu went into the National Tournament in the bottom 8 for the first time in 3 year, the side were unlucky on day 1 against Counties where a try on full time was ruled out which would have left the conversion to decide the game, they narrowly went down 27-22.

Day two saw them up at half time against Auckland B however again the larger pack wore Manawatu down and the Auckland side would mount a significant 40-16 victory after Manawatu lead 16-7.

The final day saw Manawatu get their first and only win of the programme against the NZ Heartland U19 side 24-12 in a tight battle. The side which was hampered by injuries and work committments completed a tough campaign however did themselves proud in the way they did so.

Under 16

It was the first hit out for our U16 Manawatu side and they showed some good continuity and shades of brilliance as they came up against a hearty Area Schools side. The Manawatu boys hit the ground running with a couple of early trys to take a 12 nil lead. Some big carries from our men up front lead to some space out wide for our backs to capitalise, including some individual brilliance on the right wing from Reif Dawson. The Area Schools side showed some good resolve hitting back with a try of their own after some good attacking pressure and a couple of lapses from the boys in green. Manawatu would strike once more to head into the half with a 17-7 lead.

 The halftime break saw the benches cleared for both sides (with the 'half-game' rule in force). Some fresh bodies and fresh minds helped both sides and the reshuffled sides found their feet and found the try line. The Area Schools were to strike and also Manawatu through a barnstorming intercept try from around halfway to Sheldon Tairea. Up 24-12, Manawatu wasn't finished yet with a final breakaway try to extend out to 31-12. The Area Schools side wasn't finished either as they scored on the final whistle for the score to finish at 31-17, Manawatu. A great game for 2 sides with not much time together under their belts on a beautiful Manawatu day.

Under 14
The Manawatu Under 14 side travelled to the metropolis of Bulls where they would play Wanganui on the boundary. Bulls RFC have been long time members of the MRU and it was a great opportunity to showcase the rural clubs to our representative sides. Manawatu looked to dominate in the first half in what looked like one way traffice, however Wanganui stormed back into the game in the second half scoring back to back tries, Manawatu did manage to finish with a flurry pushing the score out to 37-22, however Wanganui certainly applied pressure and highlighted some work on areas for Manawatu

Under 13
The Manawatu U13 side travelled to the river city where the weather was tropical and the field was firm. Manawatu flew out of the blocks and looked to dominate the smaller Wanganui side in the early exchanges, however later in the match the Manawatu side went away from it's structure and a number of dropped passes crept in. Manawat however would continue to dominate late in teh game for an 84-0 win.

Under 12
Ross Brown South proved to be a well drilled team from the get go. Manawatu struggled from the start to find momentum with the opposition's superb defence and attack. We came away with a 64-15 loss and a lot to work on in the coming weeks.

Under 12 played a MUCH bigger side in the Dannevirke U13 (Highschool Kids). First half, were a little reluctant to tackle the much bigger back line, forward competed well. Halftime score 30-5 Dannevirke.
Second half brought on our main lose forwards that were off on the first half, made a big difference a lot more aggressive and the rest of the teams responded to that, and won the second Half 17-15. Really proud of the boys as they kept theirs head held high and never gave up. Full time  45-22 Dannevirke

Manawatu started off confident against a well matched opposition who were just as skilled in set piece, attack and defence. We led well when at half time score was 20/7 this without conversions being made. Bush kept up the pace second half but our boys were too strong in the end clinching the win 32/23. A well played game from our side especially coming back from two previous losses from Under 13 sides, which has knocked their confidence somewhat.

Manawatu had a good strong start against Horo-Kapiti with a try being scored within the first few minutes of play. They continued to play well with their attacking and defence being very strong throughout the entire game. The weather started to pack up with rain for most of the game, but that didn't faze neither team. Horowhenua were down by 3 tries at half time, but came back with the final score 36/27. Both teams showed skill and determination which made for good viewing.

Manawatu saved thier best for last, played to our game plan with added pods off 1st/5.
Forwards very aggressive at breakdowns and turnovers.
Hard day in the back line with the wind with a few drop passes but coaches didn't mind because they were recognising the space and putting other members into space. Manawatu would cap off their season with a 47-5 win over Wellington City

Under 11
Sunday the 12th of August was the first game for the Manawatu U11 team after four weeks of training.  It was a beautiful day for some good running rugby and as this was the first hit-out for the season the boys were excited to make their debut in the green and white strip. 
South Taranaki came to play and put in a great effort and really challenged the team at ruck time and scored two excellent tries through this area.  However, Manawatu hit back hard and controlled the game well throughout and ran in some really good team tries.  The Manawatu coaches were impressed with the talent that was on display today and are excited about the teams' season ahead.
Final Score Manawatu 43 to South Taranaki 12

Manawatu U11 played Wairarapa Bush U11 at Colquhoun Park on Sunday the 19th of August 2018.  It was a tough day for the visitors, who started the game really strong.  Unfortunately they made some errors that Manawatu managed to capitalise on and from there Manawatu dominated for the remainder of the game.  With a half time score of 54 - 0 the Manawatu boys were given a zero contention at the ruck policy to shift their focus to defence patterns and when they had the ball in hand we adopted a two pass rule in order to find the open spaces on the outside as opposed to just going through the middle.  Even with these changes implemented the boys still dominated and brought home a 94 to 5 win.

On Sunday the 26th of August Manawatu U11 travelled to Wanganui.  This was out first away game and we had the support of all the parents and other whanau members that had travelled over with us.  This game felt like the first one we'd played this season where we had real competition and Wanganui had definitely turned up to play.  With a pack size similar to ours they challenged us at every possible opportunity and we were weren't given any easy ball, the boys had to fight for everything they got for the entire game.   Our defence was outstanding this week, the boys chopped down players, were competitive at rucks and defended their line with immense passion.  Hunter Kennedy continued his try scoring streak on the wing with a hatrick this week and our back line brought in all the rest of the tries to finish of a superb game and victory over Wanganui of 43 to 12.

On Sunday the 2nd of September Manawatu U11 travelled to Dannevirke Rugby Park to play the Dannevirke U11 team.  The game was played in excellent spirits with Dannevirke starting the game with a rousing haka and showing real sportsmanship when they created a tunnel to clap our players onto and off the field.  A good game was played by both teams, with Manawatu absolutely dominating the first half, however Dannevirke came out reinvigorated in the second half to put in a much better defensive effort.  Dannevirke played really well in stages and were really tough around the break down, however, they just couldn't break the Manawatu defensive line to score any tries and Manawatu continued to play some brilliant rugby, showcasing their talent and full team effort and they brought the game home with a 60-0 score.

On Saturday the 15th of September 2018 at 1pm we played thre Horowhenua/Kapiti U11 rep team at Colquhoun Park.  It was a beautiful day for running rugby and as their pack was significantly bigger than ours we decided we take advantage of the beautiful weather and dry track, so we employed an expansive game plan to try and move their pack around the field in the hope this would pay dividends tiring out their forward pack and opening up the edges and allowing our backs to attack that space.  We had some worried parents on the sideline when we took the field and had our tiny wingers matched up with their wingers who were 5 foot 7 and at least 80kg, but when the game kicked off size was no match for our boys skill and speed.  Like every other game we've played this season, our boys stepped up to the mark and did what they do best, which is use their skill to look for gaps and capitalise on the other teams mistakes.  Horowhenua/Kapiti never gave up and were physical to the end but just could not break our defensive line and the final score was 76 to 0.