Grassroots sport: Unbeaten records on the line


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

Baywide Rugby

Defending Premier titleholders Te Puke Sports have posted an outstanding unbeaten start to the rugby season, averaging more than 40 points a game in their first three outings, and conceding just three tries.

With longtime Te Puke Sports player Craig Jeffries taking up the head coach responsibilities for the first time, the Te Puke side has their sights fixed firmly on back-to-back Baywide championships. The defending titleholders have a real match winner with Bay of Plenty Steamer Nick McCashin able to kick goals from anywhere inside the opposition half. Forty-five points with the boot testify to McCashin's kicking ability, with the ace goal shooter converting nine of Te Pukes 10 tries last weekend.

Tomorrow, Te Puke Sports will travel to Rotorua to play former Baywide heavyweights Waikite at Bellvue Rd. The Amber and Black side who have a long and proud tradition in Bay of Plenty Rugby, have made a strong start to the current season sitting in the middle of the points standings.

Coached by Waikite stalwart Stephen Jones, the Waikite game is based upon control in the forward pack.

Rotoiti along with Te Puke Sports are the only teams to hold an unblemished start to the season. This weekend Rotoiti are at home at Emery Park in front of their passionate supporters against Opotiki.

Opotiki who sit just two points from the top of the standings, have made a grand start to the Baywide campaign and are sure to test the home side. The old firm of Dean Elmiger and Matt Henwood, who have both worn Steamers jerseys, provide strong leadership in the Opotiki forward pack.

Tauranga Sports will be chasing their second success of the season, when they visit Maramatanga Park to face Te Puna. Whakarewarewa should be too strong for Rangataua who sit at the bottom of the point's ladder, with the winner of the Greerton Marist and Mount Maunganui clash grabbing their first win of the season.

While Ngongotaha and Paroa lead the Division One title race, there is a logjam just below the two unbeaten sides. Former Premier teams Kahukura, Te Teko and Rangiuru are all locked together on 10 points. The impasse will be broken when Kahukura host Rangiuru, in a late change of venue, due the new Rangiuru ground not being ready for play.

Ngongotaha could have a battle to retain their unbeaten season start when Whakatane Marist visit the Ngongotaha Domain.

Paroa should continue their stirling start to the season against Reporoa in the Eastern Bay, Ruatoki and Marist St Michaels are likely to have a good tussle at Tuhoe Park, with Poroporo meeting Te Teko in a Eastern Bay derby.

There will be just one unbeaten team in the Colts title race, after Greerton Marist and Mount Maunganui place their undefeated starts to the season on the line at Greerton Park. The home side who finished runners-up in last season's age group championship will face a real battle from former Baywide champions Mount Maunganui. To give the match an extra edge Mount Maunganui will put the Oliver Cup (Western Bay challenge trophy) on the line.

Te Puna should have a real battle with Tauranga Sports in the curtain raiser at Maramatanga Park, with Rangataua and Whakarewarewa who sit in the middle of the standings likely to have a close fought match-up in the Western Bay. Marist St Michaels and Kahukura will engage in a Rotorua derby at Marist Park, Rotoiti will host Opotiki, with Ruatoki taking on Waikite at Tuhoe Park.

PGG Wrightson Baywide Rugby Draws:

Premier (2.45pm) Rotoiti v Opotiki, Emery Park; Te Puna v Tauranga Sports, Maramatanga Park; Rangataua v Whakarewarewa, Te Ariki Park; Waikite v Te Puke Sports, Bellvue Road; Greerton Marist v Mount Maunganui, Greerton Park.

Points table: Te Puke Sports 14, Rotoiti 14, Opotiki 12, Whakarewarewa 12, Te Puna 10, Waikite 7, Tauranga Sports 6, Mount Maunganui 2, Greerton Marist 1, Rangataua 0.

Division One (2.45pm) Paroa v Reporoa, Lawson Park; Ruatoki v Marist St Michaels, Tuhoe Park; Ngongotaha v Whakatane Marist, Ngongotaha Domain; Kahukura v Rangiuru, Kuirau Park; Poroporo v Te Teko, Poroporo Park.

Points table: Ngongotaha 15, Paroa 14, Kahukura 10, Te Teko 10, Rangiuru 10, Poroporo 7, Whakatane Marist 6, Marist St Michaels 5, Ruatoki 1, Reporoa 0.

Colts (1pm) Te Puna v Tauranga Sports, Maramatanga Park; Greerton Marist v Mount Maunganui, Greerton Park; Marist St Michaels v Kahukura, Marist Park; Rangataua v Whakarewarewa, Te Ariki Park; Rotoiti v Opotiki, Emery Park; Ruatoki v Waikite, Tuhoe Park; Te Puke Sports the bye.

Points table: Greerton Marist 14, Mount Maunganui 14, Waikite 10, Te Puna 10, Ruatoki 9, Tauranga Sports 9, Rangataua 6, Whakarewarewa 6, Rotoiti 5, Opotiki 5, Te Puke Sports 1, Kahukura 1, Marist St Michaels 0.

Cycling

Rotorua's Sam Phipps will front up against the big guns of junior cycling in this weekend's CRI Junior Cycle Tour in Rotorua.

The 16-year-old is set to ride in the U19 boys division of the four-stage two-day tour, which has attracted the best young cyclists from New Zealand and Australia.

Phipps has only been cycling for just over a year but has shown he has potential, quickly working his way through the grades. In the last month he finished second in the U18 section and sixth overall in the Rotorua to Taupo 100km flyer as well as eighth in the U19 Waikato Bay of Plenty Time Trials.

He said he was looking forward to testing himself against a field which included the New Zealand junior training squad and the Australian junior team.

"I just want to race my hardest competing with those guys," he said.

Phipps said he had been training hard and this weekend's tour would be a good indicator of form ahead of the U19 club nationals in three weeks' time.

Cycling Rotorua president Peter Clark said although Phipps would be racing against older riders, some of whom were virtually fulltime cyclists, he expected him to do pretty well.

More than 200 riders will take part in the weekend's tour, which includes U15 and U17 boys and girls, U19 boys and a combined U19 girls/open women's section. New Zealand selectors will be watching closely with a view to finalising their U17 and U19 teams for international competition later this year.

Clark said Phipps and Sarah Pitcher-Campbell (open women) were the only two riders from the Rotorua club competing, with Pitcher-Campbell also hoping for a good result.

"Sarah's form has been very good this year," he said. "She's ridden a lot of races."

Racing starts at 9.45am Saturday, with two road races (stage one) and a time trial (stage two) in the Ngakuru Valley. On Sunday the stage three criterium will be held at the Eastgate Industrial Park from 9am followed by the final stage - a road race back at Ngakuru Valley.

Clark said it was a great opportunity for the Rotorua public to see some top talent in action.

"If people want to see some really good racing they should get along to the criterium," he said. "The under 19s go around those 90 degree corners at 50km/h."

- By Katie Holland

Archery

Smallbone Park will host New Zealand and Australia's best young archers next week as they compete for the honour of lifting a transtasman trophy.

The Trans Tasman Youth Archery Challenge is held every second year inter-changing between venues in Australia and New Zealand.

This will be the first time Rotorua has held the event after the Rotorua Archery Club's application to host it was accepted.

Rotorua Archery Club president Gordon Randle said three local archers would represent New Zealand in the 15-strong team including his daughter Elizabeth Randle.

"It's been running since 1996, it is quite a step up for the kids as it is an international event."

Rotorua's Iori Morley and Marcus Barclay will also represent New Zealand in the five-day event starting on Monday.

He said the archers were usually between the age of 10 and 20 but this year Australia had included an 8-year-old in their team.

"The Australians won it last time in Australia but we won it the time before that in Gisborne."

Mr Randle said participants were vying for points in the singles, team play and mixed events with all points going towards their country's overall score.

He said the targets ranged between 30m and 90m in distance and each archer would fire 240 arrows a day.

"We will be using 16 targets supplied by Archery New Zealand, it's going to be quite impressive."

The event is open to the public to go along and watch.

He said the sport had a relatively low profile and the event might bring more popularity to the game locally.

Mr Randle said the recent film The Hunger Games surprisingly had little effect on people joining the club - despite a surge nationally.

"Lord of the Rings is what got my son into it but The Hunger Games hasn't had as big an effect I don't think."

Interest in archery has shot up in Auckland, with clubs reporting high numbers of teenagers, particularly girls, signing up following the release of The Hunger Games film.

One archery club said the overflow of interest had seen its beginners' coaching course - which runs for six weeks - booked up until November.

Schools in Auckland are also having to make adjustments to their archery teams because of the sudden surge of popularity among students

- By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

Club Football

It is early days in the WaiBop Federation division one football league but tomorrow, there are three match-ups of real interest.

Last year's champions Old Blues and Rotorua United, who have yet to register a point, will be desperate to get off the mark against Otorohanga and Claudelands Rovers. Old Blues are away to Otorohanga who have had a win and a loss while Rotorua United are at Neil Hunt Park for the second home game.

Claudelands went down to Ngongotaha in round one but upset early favourites Melville last week.

Taupo host Whakatane Town in a top of the table clash at Crown Park with both sides unbeaten after two rounds.

Ngongotaha take on Tauranga Boys' College at Stembridge Rd with both sides on three points after a win and a loss. While the Villagers have home advantage Tauranga Boys' are coming off a good 5-1 win last week.

In other games, Melville United will be out to show that last week's loss was just a blip and they should be too strong for Waikato Unicol, while it looks as though AFC Fury may struggle to gain traction to their campaign when they host Otumoetai.

Division two games;

Cambridge v Tauranga City, Katikati v Club Algeria, West Hamilton v Matamata and Rotorua United play Tokoroa at Neil Hunt Park.

- By Brian Smith

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