Rugby: 'Mr Speedway' delivers for Mighty Maroons

By Shane Hurndell

Mike McLachlan is well known on the national speedway scene.

His feats during the last 16 years for the Meeanee Maulers stockcar team and Hawke's Bay Hawkeyes superstock team have earnt him the nickname "Mr Speedway", such is his passion for his summer code.

However, Carters Frame and Truss Taradale coach Blair Cross reckoned McLachlan's rugby skills were almost as famous as his speedway ones after Taradale upset IMS Payroll Hastings Rugby and Sports 39-28 at Elwood Park on Saturday to win the Challenge Shield and book a Tui Maddison Trophy semifinal against top qualifiers Napier Technical this weekend.

"I had to roll with it and the old body just handled it," McLachlan, 33, said as he reflected on just his second 80-minute premier game this season.

"At training all week we concentrated on working as a team and supporting each other. We did it and came out on top," McLachlan said.

He pointed out the Mighty Maroons had to play as a team in the absence of Magpies training squad members Chris Eaton, Jody Allen and Johan Schoonbee and promising loosie Kaleb Sweet, who was injured. Although he has been playing at senior level for 15 years, this is only his second premier season.

"My lifestyle of too much of the wrong food and drink as well the fact I miss a lot of pre-season training and games because of my speedway commitments mean I've never been as fit as I should be. However, next summer I may ease back on my speedway commitments so I can be more serious about rugby next year.

"I played the last 30 minutes of last year's semifinal when we lost to Hastings so it was good to get them back. It was good to prop against Jason [Long] and we gave each other a bit of stick," Referring to Hastings prop and fellow superstock driver, 21-year-old Long, McLachlan said: "Jason is technically very good and strong. I can see why he is in the Magpies training squad ... he is a good prospect for the future."

Former Magpies training squad member, Irish first five-eighth John Semple, had his best outing of the season for Taradale and pipped McLachlan for player-of-the-match honours. Busy No8 Andrew Gardner was another to impress for the visitors.

Lock Tom Parsons and loosies Tom Burns and Tivaini Fomai were the best of the Hastings forwards and halfback Matt Makris had some memorable moments.

Tech 19 Havelock North 10

Tech Group of Companies Napier Technical had every right to be in celebratory mode after this win at Whitmore Park.

Earlier in the day the Tech won the Black and White Shield for the best overall club in the Bay and this win gave them the top berth for the semifinals.

New Zealand under-20s halfback Sheridan Rangihuna was inspirational for the hosts. His long passing provided plenty of attacking opportunities for Tech and his goalkicking; five successes from six attempts, provided 14 points. Fellow Magpies training squad member Richard Buckman oozed class at centre while lock Angus Benson and No8 Levi Guildford were the pick of the winning forwards.

However the Tech forwards are going to have to play a lot tighter and their backs with more depth if they are going to progress beyond the semifinals. Progressive Meats Havelock North competed well considering they were missing 10 first-stringers. Prop Kelly Petrowski and hooker Matt Phillips battled well while centre Brad Nicol made the most of his limited opportunities out wide.

MAC 33 Clive 0

Had Hastings beaten Taradale MAC would have secured the fourth semifinal spot in the wake of this Ron Giorgi Park victory.

However after promising so much earlier in the season, it was a disappointing fifth placing for MAC. Winger Caelym Box, openside flanker Louie Tovo and lock Dempsey Greening were all prominent as MAC produced a memorable last home outing.

Magpies training squad member Billy Ropiha, at second five-eighth, and gutsy openside flanker James Tango, were Clive's best.

NOBM 69 Tamatea 12

Hawke's Bay Insurances Limited Napier Old Boys Marist coach Mike Warren called on the Magpies selectors to consider grooming his openside flanker Pouvi Fatialofa for the ITM Cup after this walloping at Bill Mathewson Park. Fatialofa grabbed his second hat-trick of the season.

Promising No8 Joseph Penitito was another to impress in the winning pack while second five-eighth Mark Collier was constructive.

Hawke's Bay Seafoods Tamatea again struggled because of a lengthy injury list. Lock Ivan Bellamy toiled tirelessly in the host pack while first five-eighth Jimmy Harris and centre Pene Paselio impressed in the backline. Tamatea will meet Otane in the promotion-relegation game on August 14.

Pirate 19 Central 16

The pressure of this close encounter at Waipukurau's Central Park contributed to numerous mistakes.

Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports secured the victory with a converted try during the final four minutes. Hooker Matt Martin produced a player-of-the-match performance for the visitors while lock Roger McPherson and prop Conrad Rieter also made coach Phil Rumpler's MVP list.

Central were unlucky after dominating for lengthy periods. Their best were prop Andrew Martin, No8 Robbie Barr, flanker Bryce Barr and winger Kody Lancaster.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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