Grassroots sport: Teams jockey for position in Bay


The Daily Post's sports department previews some grassroots events around the region's sports fields this weekend.

Rugby

Tomorrow's second round of the Baywide premier competition sees teams jostling to make a statement before settling down to the long haul of the championships.

Waikite host Opotiki at Bellevue Rd and will look to improve on the performance that saw them thrashed by Rotoiti last week. The visitors showed in their seven-try victory against Greerton Marist last week they weren't just making up numbers in the top echelon and are favoured to win tomorrow's clash.

Whakarewarewa are expected to be too strong for Greerton Marist when they travel to Greerton Park. After his side snatched a last-minute draw with Tauranga Sport last week, Whaka coach Kevin Lee will hope they go one better against the competition newcomers.

Rangataua are likely to face a stern challenge from Rotoiti at Te Ariki Park, after the visitors' impressive start to the competition.

Te Puna, who narrowly avoided relegation last year, face Baywide heavyweights Mt Maunganui at Blake Park while champions Te Puke Sports host Tauranga Sports. All games kick off at 2.45pm.

Football

The WaiBop Federation League kicks off tomorrow with all games expected to be closely contested.

Rotorua United will face Melville, wanting to avenge their 2-1 loss to the Hamilton side in last week's pre-season cup. Coach Neil Rush's well-balanced team could be up for the title. While Melville will be tough to crack at home, United are tipped to win a close game.

Ngongotaha, who took the division two title last year, are at home against a strong Claudelands Rovers side who will give them a guide to how much tougher football in the top division will be.

Whakatane Town host last year's champions Old Blues, who've lost two key strikers as well as their captain. Whakatane finished eighth last season but new coach Mike Ward has a talented young side who could improve on that result.

Taupo take on last season's runners-up Otumoetai. New Taupo coach Paul Drake has Alan Lamb and Bevan Woltersdorf back in the club, hoping to better a disappointing 2011 season.

In other games, Otorohanga are at home to Tauranga Boys' College while AFC Fury host newly promoted Waikato Unicol.Brian Smith

School sport

Some of the country's best young sporting talent will be on display in Rotorua during the 19th Western Heights High School Invitational Tournament, running until Sunday.

Organiser Jo van der Maas said teams from 55 to 60 North Island schools had converged on the city for the event, as well as students from two South African and one Australian school.

Students will compete in 13 sports, including squash and equestrian.

Rugby, netball and soccer will be held at the school, while other sports take place at venues all over Rotorua. Competition starts today, with tomorrow expected to be the biggest day of the tournament.Katie Holland

Golf

The Rotorua Golf Club 2012 Men's Open Championship teed off today with the first of four rounds.

The annual 72 hold strokeplay tournament, which runs until Sunday, has attracted a 70-strong field that includes top seed and defending champion Landyn Edwards of Rotorua.

Edwards comes into the tournament after a seventh equal finish at last week's New Zealand Stroke Play Championship in Hastings. He tied at four under for the tournament with fellow Rotorua player Victor Janin and Manawatu's Joshua Munn, both of whom are also lining up at the Rotorua club this weekend. They will be joined by another local contender, Peter Lee.

The field will be split into two divisions for the tournament, which began at 11am today. Two rounds will be played tomorrow, with the deciding round on Sunday.Katie Holland

Cycling

An estimated 2500 cyclists will take to the roads for tomorrow's Rotorua to Taupo 100K Flyer.

Organiser Charlotte Pearson said the field contained a wide variety of competitors, ranging from beginners to serious cyclists.

More than 2000 entries had been received to date and with good weather forecast, she was expecting a rush of entries on the day.

The event, which has been running since 2000, is one of the biggest cycle races in the country. Last year it was won by Dion Smith of Pure Black Racing. The Pure Black team won't be competing this year, but Pearson said there were still quite a few top riders to look out for.

"We've got Brad Tilby, who's a former professional cyclist," she said. "Ben McHale from the Rotorua Cycling club is also entered, as well as top local junior Sam Phipps."

On the women's side, all eyes will be on BikeNZ national team member Kaytee Boyd (Auckland).

The main race begins at 9.30am from Ward Ave, next to the Kingsgate Hotel, although slower riders will start an hour earlier. Competitors have the option of riding solo, in tandem or in teams of two or three. State Highway 5, from Rotorua to Reporoa Rd, rural roads around Reporoa, Broadlands and Tauhara Rd will be congested. Motorists are asked to take extreme care and use State Highway 30 via Atiamuri.

Late entries can be made at the Kingsgate Hotel from 5pm-7pm today or from 7am-9am tomorrow. Katie Holland

Cricket

Rotorua Central are in with a chance for the 2012 Baywide Twenty 20 title in tomorrow's slightly complicated finals day.

A rain-affected competition has left Central anxiously awaiting the outcome of a match at Tauranga's Fergusson Park tomorrow, when Cadets play Mt Maunganui at 10.30am. A Cadets win puts them in the final against Tauranga Boys' College but if Mt Maunganui win, Central will go through to challenge the students for the title at 2pm.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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