Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Rugby: Upset win kicks off Baywide comp

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Mount Maunganui's Chris Elvin, left, and Malakia Kisina in action against Arataki in the opening round of the Baywide rugby season. Photo / Andrew Warner
Mount Maunganui's Chris Elvin, left, and Malakia Kisina in action against Arataki in the opening round of the Baywide rugby season. Photo / Andrew Warner

There is nothing quite like an upset to get a new competition rolling.

Rangataua Sports provided the hammer blow by knocking over last year's defeated finalists Te Puke Sports by 25-15 at Te Ariki Park on Good Friday in the opening round of the 2016 Baywide competition spread over three days over Easter.

Rangataua are renowned for upstaging favoured teams on their home patch and they got their season off to the ideal start by knocking over Te Puke Sports in a well-deserved victory.

Mount Maunganui Sports, Tauranga Sports, Te Puna, Whakatane Marist and Whakarewarewa were the other first round Premier grade winners.

Premier rugby returned to Arataki Park for the first time in nine years when Arataki hosted local rivals Mount Maunganui for the Alex Brickel Memorial Shield named after a fine young Arataki player who died of cancer in 1989.

The game was won 28-10 by Mount Maunganui with Mason Walker and Sam Mayes scoring tries for the Marlins and Here Hiha crossing for the home side.

Immaculate goal kicking by Pera Gibbs made the difference in a competitive game played in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Arataki coach Marty Bourke says they showed they have earned the right to play in the grade.

"I am pretty happy with our guys. We defended probably 70 per cent of that game well and we were fit enough, so I am really pleased actually. A win would have been great but that's an end result.

"We would have got a lot of self-belief out of today but the boys are really disappointed. They set pretty high standards for themselves about not wanting to just participate in the comp but to be a dominant force."

Mount Maunganui gained an advantage at scrum time, particularly in the second half, although the clearing of the ball from the back of the Arataki scrum under pressure by new Bay of Plenty contracted player Henry Stowers was superb.

Arataki captain and tight head prop Taite Smith says overall it was a fairly even battle up front.

"Our scrum started off well but at that next level in the Premiers you have to switch on for the whole 80 with the whole pack switching on for those scrums when you really need it" he said. "They tactically used their front row well by swapping their players which I guess when you have that depth you can. But it is just one game and we can definitely compete in this competition."

Mount Maunganui Sports captain Chris Elvin was pleased how his team adapted to the wet conditions.

"We tried to plan an expansive game but the weather did not let us do that or their D did not let us do that either. They are a pretty well-coached side with a lot of good players. I admit I was a bit nervous coming into this game, into the unknown, so it was pretty good to get the W."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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