Eastern Courier : April 13th 2011
19 EASTERN COURIER, APRIL 13, 2011 SPORT Lighter players make most of graded rugby Focused: Pakuranga U85kg Rattlers warm-up before a pre- season match with the club's Presidents team. By TAYLOR MOSEN Lighter rugby players have another avenue to show their skills in Auckland's under 85kg grade. Auckland Rugby opera- tions manager Matt McHardy says the grade is designed to give players who weren't blessed with size the oppor- tunity to keep playing''. Mr McHardy says like many other New Zealand unions, Auckland Rugby has become dominated in recent times by players of Pacific Island origin who are typically bigger. Twenty-nine teams have registered for this year's under 85kg compe- tition with most from the eastern suburban clubs including Pakuranga. Mr McHardy says this is because clubs in higher socio-economic areas like east Auckland generally have a higher percentage of European players''. But he says many players don't necessarily live in those areas but choose to com- mute''. He says the much bigger guys in the premier and res- erve grades put off some guys who find under 85kg rugby a safer and more social option. The winner at the end of the season wins a pallet of beer -- it's very much a social grade.'' Pakuranga U85kg Rattlers coach Ryan Pilkington has been involved in the grade for five years and says it is not merely social. This grade is definitely competitive. To be a good under 85kg player you need good techni- cal skills -- the games are played at a fast pace.'' Mr Pilkington says for a lot of players in higher grades, playing for the love of the game is no longer what drives them. He says they seem to play for their clubs which are made up of many teams and many players they may not even know. In under-85s you're playing for your team and for your mates in a social environment,'' he says. -- Taylor Mosen is an AUT journalism student Pakuranga wins Challenge Cup Snatch, above: Pakuranga lock Tristan Sweden easily wins the ball in the lineout. Busting through, left: Pakuranga second-five Jarek Goebel fights to break away from Papatoetoe's Viliami Tahitu'a. Great result, right: Mausia Taiese is all smiles after the final whistle. Try time: Papatoetoe players look on as prop Mausia Taiese touches down. Confidence is high in the Pakuranga Premier rugby side after winning the Waka Nathan Challenge Cup at Bell Park on Saturday. Papatoetoe went down 17-20 in the pre-season tour- nament final. Victorious coach Wayne Pivac says it wasn't their best performance but he didn't expect it to be. We had our opportunities to put the game away, I felt,'' he says. When first five-eighth Jason Roache seemed sure to extend the 20-12 winning margin in the last quarter, he was cut down in a high tackle --- Timoteo Iosua was then sent from the field by referee Ben Skeen. We got a penalty out of it but he had an unmarked man on the inside, so really we should have taken seven points. Papatoetoe had very strong forwards and they cer- tainly put us under a lot of pressure at the set piece.'' Pivac says missed scoring opportunities made the match tougher than it needed to be. It was a nice, sunny day and both teams tried to throw the ball around and play an expansive sort of game. And with both teams right in it to the end it made for a pretty good spectacle.'' Pivac says they're reason- ably happy'' with the early season result and it'll be a confidence boost as the players prepare for the prem- ier season. Their first match is away against Suburbs and their first home game is against East Tamaki in round three.
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