Stuart Whitaker is a sports reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times and a general reporter for the Bay News.

U19s chance for revenge

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CHARGE: Whakarewarewa's Jesse Mason-Grant was a try scorer for the Bay of Plenty under 19s in their opening game win at the Jock Hobbs National Under 19 Tournament.
CHARGE: Whakarewarewa's Jesse Mason-Grant was a try scorer for the Bay of Plenty under 19s in their opening game win at the Jock Hobbs National Under 19 Tournament.

Revenge will be on the minds of Bay of Plenty Under-19 players as they take on Counties Manukau in the final of the Michael Jones Trophy this afternoon.

The Michael Jones Trophy was the second tier competition of the Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under-19 Tournament being played in Taupo.

Counties were the defending champions, and beat the Bay side 27-13 in a seeding game leading up to the national tournament.

Bay of Plenty manager Kyle McLean said that game hadn't been forgotten.

''We were really flat that day. It was probably our worst performance to be fair. It was a really big learning curve that day, but since then we've been going really,'' he said.

The defeat had been mentioned in the lead up today's game.

''The boys were hurting after that game so they have a point to prove I guess.''

The final would be the side's third game at the tournament, and they had won their chance to lift the trophy with a come-from-behind 39-31 win over North Harbour, and a 31-8 victory over Hawke's Bay.

''We are really rapt with how we've performed to this point in the tournament,'' said McLean.

''We were a little bit despondent with our seeding games, but the boys are starting to peak and tracking and progressing well.

''They are a really tight knit group and a bunch of good lads.

''To beat North Harbour first up the way they did showed great resilience and character and we were a bit too strong for Hawke's Bay to be fair. But Counties will be a different kettle of fish.

''The physical preparation is done in the build up to the tournament, now we are making sure the boys get good recovery and making sure they are fresh, and ready for the next game. We can tweak a few things through watching game footage of Counties and looking at how we are going to attack them and hopefully beat them.''

After conceding 31 points to Harbour, the Bay of Plenty defence stood up in the Hawke's Bay game.

''They had a couple of quality players, that we targeted to stop, who have played New Zealand Under-20s already, so they are right up there nationally. We had some boys who really stepped up defensively. I think we only missed about 10 tackles the whole game.

''We just wore them down eventually and scored three tries in the last 15 minutes to seal it.''

As well as the games, New Zealand Rugby Union had arranged seminars and coaching for the players in the tournament.


Michael Jones Trophy Final today
Bay of Plenty v Counties Manukau
Owen Delany Park, Taupo
Kick-off: 3.20pm

- Rotorua Daily Post

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