Rugby: Hooker slick as Opo?

By Shane Hurndell


The Northland township of Opononi became famous back in the 1950s thanks to the antics of a wild bottlenosed dolphin named Opo.

She would perform stunts for locals, play with objects like beach balls and beer bottles and allow children to swim alongside her and make contact. Several documentary films were made about Opo, who died in 1956, and songs have been written about her.

Should Tech Group of Companies Napier Technical loosie-hooker Josh Te Whata-Colley keep playing the way he is Hawke's Bay rugby fans may soon remember Opononi more for Te Whata-Colley than for Opo. The least known of the 26 players named in the Hawke's Bay Magpies training squad on Friday for Saracens fixtures this month, Te Whata-Colley, 22, arrived in the Bay from Opononi 18 months ago.

"I came down here for rugby and work purposes. There weren't too many opportunities back home," Te Whata-Colley explained after a player-of-the-match performance for Tech during Saturday's 31-6 win against Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports in a sixth round Tui Maddison Trophy encounter at Park Island.

The blindside flanker impressed with his defensive workrate and ability to make metres on the carry because of his low point of gravity.

In fact if he has a weakness it's his eagerness to make carry after carry. Once he realises quality rather than quantity is more important at carry time he will become more lethal.

Magpies head coach Craig Philpott has selected Te Whata-Colley as a hooker and the builder's labourer with Camo Construction is happy in either role.

"I don't mind both positions. I like the rumble involved with both. I did what I could for the boys today and now I'm out of club rugby for the next few weeks the aim is to do the best I can to try and make the Magpies squad," Te Whata-Colley said.

One of his workmates, New Zealand under-20s winger Penikolo Latu, scored two tries for Tech while second five-eighth Tane McGuire and No 8 Levi Guildford were others to impress in the victory. Lock Marcus Donovan, halfback Jonathan Ruru and first five-eighth Aayden Clarke all made valuable contribution to a Pirate outfit which was more competitive than the score suggests.

Taradale 20 MAC 17

Carters Frame and Truss Taradale caused the upset of the round with this win against the previously unbeaten competition leaders MAC at Flaxmere's Ron Giorgi Park.

Taradale led 20-10 before MAC scored a converted try to secure a bonus point. Taradale's match with Napier Old Boys Marist this weekend will be a crucial one in the battle for a semifinal berth.

Taradale coach Blair Cross was proud of the manner his troops used the wind to apply pressure. Busy No 8 Kaleb Sweet, blindside flanker Andrew Gardner and halfback Chris Eaton all made Cross' MVP list.

Halfback Willy Schuster and veteran lock Johnny Te Ngaio were both prominent for MAC.

NOBM 47 Clive 3

Substitute loosie Pouvi Fatialofa's hat-trick within seven minutes of taking the field for Hawke's Bay Insurances Limited Napier Old Boys Marist had tongues wagging.

Fatialofa proved how valuable he is going to be to the side during the coming weeks. Second five-eighth Sam Giddens, lock Matt Thompson, in his 50th outing for the team, and fullback Spencer Isopo were others to shine for NOBM.

Considering the amount of possession and territory Clive enjoyed in the first half they were unlucky not to score a try or two. Lock Sven Hogenesch and hooker Jorian Tangaere had memorable moments in the visiting pack while second five-eighth and former NOBM player Herman Ah Kiong and first five-eighth Billy Ropiha were the pick of the Clive backs.

Hastings 29 Central 10

IMS Payroll Hastings Rugby and Sports kept their faint hopes of securing a semifinal berth alive with this home win at Elwood Park. Powerful No 8 Peniasi Tokakece, Irish flanker Tom Burns and experienced hooker Jamie Muir battled effectively in the Hastings pack. Halfback Adam Ross, in his 50th appearance for the side, combined well with first five-eighth Luke Makris.

"It was another one of those games where we played all the rugby but couldn't capitalise on our opportunities," Central coach Rob Evans said.

His best players were halfback Tom Beachen, blindside flanker Mua Sala and winger Kody Lancaster.

Havelock North 77 Tamatea 10

Tamatea expected a backlash in the wake of Progressive Meats Havelock North's only loss of the season the previous week and they got it in this Anderson Park clash.

Hawke's Bay Seafoods Tamatea were outscored 11 tries to one. Despite the winning margin Havelock coach Tom Blake said his troops still have a few aspects of play to tidy.

Loosehead prop Adam Jowsey, hooker Matt Phillips, who grabbed a hat-trick, and captain and No 8 Zane Rangi were tireless in the host pack. Veteran winger Johnny Robin made the most of his attacking opportunities and deserved his two tries.

Openside flanker BJ Bland, in his first outing of the season after returning from kickboxing commitments, and No 8 Hamiora Rowlands had huge workrates in the visiting pack and first five-eighth Jimmy Harris was the best of the Tamatea backs.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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