Premier Club Rugby
MARK "Cracker" Braidwood was congratulated continuously as he entered the Napier Technical side's changing room after yesterday's opening round match in Hawke's Bay's Nash Cup premier club rugby competition.
In his fourth outing as a loosehead prop, Braidwood, 25, produced a player-of-the-match performance as Tech Group of Companies Napier Technical pipped IMS Payroll Hastings Rugby and Sports 18-13 at Whitmore Park.
"I've gone from a loosie to lock and now prop during the five years I've been with Tech," Englishman Braidwood explained as the pats on the back continued.
"I wasn't quick enough to stay at lock this season so I moved up to the front row. I've got to thank Briggsie for helping me make the move ... I've heard him talking about me taking on the tighthead role but I will stick with the loosehead," Braidwood said referring to Tech head coach and former Chiefs prop David Briggs.
After taking a pounding for long periods in the first half, Braidwood and his fellow Tech forwards got their revenge in the second spell in one of those classic "games of two halves".
While Hastings had the better ball retention and continuity in the first half Tech had it in the second spell. Hastings were guilty of going off the boil for a long period in the second half after their industrious halfback Adam Ross scored a cracker of a try.
With Braidwood, openside flanker Hugh Reed and substitute lock Trent Boswell-Wakefield inspirational the Tech pack enjoyed long periods of dominance before winger Brian Tareha scored the match-winning try with seven minutes remaining.
Tareha and his fellow Tech backs benefited from some long and accurate passing from halfback Sheridan Rangihuna. Ross was the pick of the Hastings players.
Prop Dennis Tapusua and lock George Crichton made some memorable charges for Hastings but like several of their teammates will be hoping for better ball retention as the season progresses.
MAC 32 Central 30
Halfback Willy Schuster claimed player-of-the-match honours as his MAC side pipped Central 32-30 at Waipukurau's Central Park in yesterday's other premier match.
Schuster impressed with his distribution as MAC outscored their hosts six tries to three.
However, Central lock Lance Baker kept his side in the hunt with 15 points, three conversions and three penalties, from the boot.
"Our forwards were dominant at set piece time but, when the game opened up, Central were well in it," MAC assistant coach and former All Black captain Taine Randell said.
Tighthead prop Sammy Porutu and blindside flanker Louis Tovo were prominent in the visiting pack.
"We were hot on attack towards the end of the game but could not cross the chalk," Central manager Tony Lepelaars said.
Along with Baker, No8 Robbie Barr and winger Mark Donald, also made Lepelaars MVP list.
The other three Nash Cup first round encounters will be played today.
They will see Clive host Taradale in the feature game of the Clive club's 125th jubilee celebrations, Tamatea host Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports at Bill Mathewson Park and Hawke's Bay Insurances Ltd Napier Old Boys Marist will host defending champions Progressive Meats Havelock North at Park Island.
Napier Technical 18 (Penikolo Latu, Brian Tareha tries; Sheridan Rangihuna 2 pens, con) Hastings Rugby and Sports 13 (Adam Ross try; Luke Makris 2 pens, con). HT: Hastings 6-3.
MAC 32 (Jean Pierre Liebenberg, Jesse MacDonald, Jeston Craig, David Benson, Louis Tovo, Ihaka Waerea tries; Benson con) Central 30 (Karl Lepelaars, Mark Donald, Bryce Barr tries; Lance Baker 3 pens, 3 cons). HT: 20-all.