Hawke's Bay Saracens rugby midfield back Billy Ropiha will be a spectator for the next four weeks because of a broken hand.
Ropiha was the only casualty after the Saracens were beaten 36-25 by Taranaki in an ITM Cup pre-season outing at Victoria Park, Stratford on Saturday. Hawke's Bay Magpies head coach Craig Philpott said he was reasonably happy with the hitout, despite his team being outscored six tries to three, and he got "a lot out of the game".
"A few one-on-one tackles were missed in the first half and they got a couple of soft tries. We fought our way back in the second half and got within four points and they scored a late intercept try. We don't have too much to fear before we take them on again in round two of the cup, but in saying that neither team showed too much," Philpott said.
He said both teams got away with more cheating than normal at breakdowns which were continually blown up.
"Being a trial game I don't think the referee wanted to issue any yellow cards."
Saracens winger Mikey Vuicakau continued the outstanding club form he displayed for Havelock North and was always dangerous on attack.
The Fijian with the big smile joined fellow outside backs Trinity Spooner-Neera and Liam Edwards as the Saracens tryscorers.
Openside flanker Tom Stanley and No8 Mark Atkins, who both played the entire game, were others singled out by Philpott for their valuable contributions. Atkins was playing in his home province.
Former Magpies lock Leighton Price was among Taranaki's tryscorers in a game which was played as part of the Stratford club's 125th Jubilee celebrations. Victoria Park was reasonably firm, despite recent rain in Taranaki as it hadn't been played on since July 5.
Taranaki 36 (Warwick Lahmert, Pomare Samupo, Waisake Naholo, Leighton Price, Seta Tamanivalu, Beaudein Waaka tries; Marty McKenzie 2, Codey Rei cons), Hawke's Bay
Saracens 25 (Mikey Vuicakau, Trinity Spooner-Neera, Liam Edwards tries; Tyrone Elkington-McDonald 2 pens; Elkington-McDonald, Matt Berquist cons).