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Rugby: Western maintain heights

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Te Aparua Tata makes another break for Te Wharekura o Mauao against Western Heights High School. Photo / Ben Fraser
Te Aparua Tata makes another break for Te Wharekura o Mauao against Western Heights High School. Photo / Ben Fraser

The prestigious Te Kani Shield remains in the hands of Western Heights High School First 1st XV after they beat Bethlehem's Te Wharekura o Mauao 20-7 on home soil on Saturday.

The win saw Western Heights avenge their first round defeat and defend the Dick Littlejohn Trophy.

"It was a tough grind out there today because everyone was eager to get the result but we just had that extra quality when it was needed," said Western Heights High School coach Steve Smith.

Western Heights took the lead after 15 minutes thanks to a Reuben Griffiths penalty kick and 10 minutes later No8 Alex Buckley slid over from a TJ Scheepers off-load after a strong Western Heights line out taking the home side into a 8-0 lead.

Western Heights started the stronger of the two after the interval and extended their lead when impressive back Brodie Woods broke through and darted past several struggling defenders to crash over the line after 45 minutes which was converted by Liam Preston.

However, the Tauranga team started to come back into the game, helped by the sinbinning of Western Heights' Buckley after a dangerous tackle.

And nifty Te Ruki Waikaho seized his chance in the 75th minute, breaking free of several last ditch tackles to sprint over the line taking the score to 15-7 after the conversion.

But any hopes of a dramatic come back were dashed three minutes later when Western Heights second-five Damel Taui pounced on a loose Te Wharekura o Mauao pass right their goalline.

Te Wharekura o Mauao coach Heywood Kuka was not too disappointed with the result and was particularly impressed with the performance of 15-year-old Te Aparua Tata who played at centre.

"I think it was a fair result today. Western Heights had the lion's share of the possession and we made too many mistakes," Kuka said. "I was delighted to see Te Apa get on so well. Bringing talented youngsters through is what it's all about.

"We will go back to the drawing board now and I think it will be about getting the boys to believe in themselves more."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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