Rugby: Magpies rallying for Ranfurly challenge

By Shane Hurndell

Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby coach Craig Philpott's one and only try for Canterbury was in a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Auckland.

Naturally Philpott, a former lock who also played for Nelson Bays, hopes the try, not the result - a 47-38 loss to Auckland at Eden Park in 1992 - will prove a lucky omen for the Magpies when they challenge Taranaki for the "Log 'O Wood" in New Plymouth on Friday night.

The Magpies' fourth round ITM Cup Premiership match will be a challenge after Taranaki retained the shield for the third time this season. They took a thrilling 49-40 win against the Kieran Keane-coached Tasman Makos in New Plymouth on Saturday night.

This will be former Christchurch Boys' High School deputy principal Philpott's biggest assignment in his first season as a head coach in the Cup.

"Obviously there's a bit of a one-off prize there, but our main focus will be continuing to build on what we produced on Friday night," Philpott said, referring to the Magpies' 37-30 win against the Counties-Manukau Steelers - their first Cup win of the season.

Yours truly suggested to Philpott his troops have produced two 40-minute efforts against Auckland and Wellington and a 60-minute one against the Steelers, so the aim must be an 80-minute one against the Naki. He agreed and replied:

"We have to be accurate and put the opposition under pressure. When we do that we can be a threat."

Philpott also agreed Saturday night's thriller at Yarrow Stadium would have taken a lot out of the Taranaki players and the fact they have one less day than the Magpies to recharge should help the Magpies on Friday night.

Philpott isn't counting on having the services of former All Black winger Zac Guildford for the challenge though. Guildford collected a hamstring injury against the Steelers and he was to get an update on the injury today. Fullback Nick McLennan collected a knee injury as well as some other bumps and bruises and a decision on his availability was also to be made today. Centre Marvin Karawana, who is yet to make his first class debut for the Magpies, is available for selection after recovering from a knee injury.

Philpott will announce the team for the challenge on Thursday morning.

Earlier this season he described the shield as "an old friend of Hawke's Bay's which hasn't been sighted in the province since 1969."

He was a resource coach for the Canterbury side which lost the shield to Southland, who took a 22-19 win in Christchurch last year after winning it in 2010.

If his Magpies are to win it on Friday night, reducing their missed tackle count will again be a priority. Thirty-three tackles were missed against the Steelers, 25 against Wellington and 27 against Auckland.

The Magpies were scheduled to have a full day of training today, a refresh day tomorrow, a full day of training again on Wednesday and a Captain's Run on Thursday.

Philpott has yet to decide whether the Captain's Run will be in Napier or New Plymouth.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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