Rugby: Miller flippin' genius for Whakarewarewa

By Greg Taipari

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Ask any Whakarewarewa supporter and they'll tell you Chris Miller is the best thing to come out of Koutu in 25 years.

While there are plenty of positives about the colourful suburb it is hard to look past the 22-year-old rugby player.

Miller, who can play just about any position in the backline, was instrumental in Whaka's 43-3 drubbing of Rotoiti at the weekend to win the Tai Mitchell Shield and Banner.

On a rock-hard surface at Emery Park in Rotoiti, Miller scored two tries and had a hand in all but three of his sides' seven tries. Standing in at centre for the unavailable Doug Edwards, Miller owned the midfield, breaking tackles almost at will and putting his teammates into gaps with ease.

Miller was a constant thorn in the side of a Rotoiti team that showed glimpses of last year's form but eventually were run ragged by the stocky speedster.

In one show of class, Miller was attacking the left-hand flank with pace man Chanse Perham.

With three defenders to beat Miller stepped the first, dummied the second and outpaced the third to run 60m to score his second try. He then did a flip under the posts.

Miller got a chance to run with the Bay Development squad last season but if Steamers coach Kevin Schuler doesn't give this youngster some game time in this year's ITM Cup - let's just say he won't be getting too many warm Puarenga Park welcomes by the red and black supporters.

Under new coach Maurice Stone, Whaka are quickly becoming the team to look out for this season. It appears - gone are the frailties from last year's scrum with captain Gregory Gillies, Trent Sweeney and Peter "Boxer" Smith adding steel to the front row. They also have depth with Darrell Pereira and Samuel Cameron coming off the bench to add extra punch.

The same could be said about Whaka's lineout. On several occasions the red and blacks competed for Rotoiti's ball and managed to steal it and it's no secret Whaka has one of the most lethal backlines in the Baywide competition.

Rotoiti can't take too much out of Saturday's game. The Kevin Lee-coached side have had limited build-up and it showed. The first 10 minutes of the match was a close-fought affair but when first-five Matt Landers left the field with a serious knee injury, the side lost momentum and struggled for the rest of the match.

A positive for Lee is his captain Jesse Acton, who has continued his form from last year. The No8 was a standout in a side that at times struggled against the Whaka pick and go.

Whakarewarewa 43 (A. Mako 2, C. Miller 2, T. Pomale 2, G. Gillies 1, tries; J. Wiringi 2 cons, C Perham 2 cons) Rotoiti 3 (M. Landers 1 pen) Halftime: 24-3.

More on p31 about the Tai Mitchell Shield.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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