Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Rugby: Tauranga prove class with easy win

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Tauranga Sports No8 Dan Crowther scored one of his team's six tries in their 40-15 win over Te Puke Sports. Photo / Andrew Warner
Tauranga Sports No8 Dan Crowther scored one of his team's six tries in their 40-15 win over Te Puke Sports. Photo / Andrew Warner

Any doubts whether Tauranga Sports are the force of past seasons have been well and truly quashed in the last two rounds.

After a shock home loss to Rotoiti, the defending champions put Te Puna to the sword by 38-19 last week and on Saturday defeated Te Puke Sports 40-15 in a rerun of last year's grand final.

Tauranga's win was based on a dominant scrum that had Te Puke's pack back-pedalling for most of the game.

The front row of tighthead Pingi Tala'apitaga, hooker Sigeon Carmichael, loosehead Ricoh Flavell and engine room of Keepa Mewett and Bailey Ransom set the impressive platform up front. No8 Dan Crowther deserved a man of the match award for his 80-minute performance, which was rewarded with a try.

Fijian flyers Phillip Togotogorua and Ralulu Bavou loved the space they were given out wide, scoring three tries between them with Bavou looking like a player with potential to impress at higher levels.

The dominant set piece allowed quality halfback Josh Hall to send ideal front-foot ball for brothers George and Steve Honey to run the show.

After a long recovery from a serious ankle injury former Wellington and Bay of Plenty fullback Steve Honey looks to be returning to something like his best form, which is good news for Steamers supporters.

"The body struggles week to week but I have got a lot of pace back which builds confidence for me," he said. "Everything starts up front of course, especially against Te Puke who always have a strong pack. It was good for guys like Pingi and Keepa to really bring it and we got really good front-foot ball which makes my job pretty easy."

Honey was quick to praise younger brother George for his ability to create space.

"This is the first time this year we had George playing centre and me playing fullback together. I love playing with George - he makes me look good."

Despite the victory Tauranga are still second on points differential behind Whakatane Marist, who just held on to beat fourth-placed Te Puna 26-20 at Rugby Park in Whakatane.

Mount Maunganui keep third place after beating Paroa 56-7, with Rangataua Sports in fifth spot despite losing at home 26-25 to Greerton Marist.

The hard luck award again goes to Arataki, who came within a point of beating Greerton Marist last week and were unlucky to lose to Whakarewarewa 25-23 at Grenada Park on Saturday.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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