Rugby: Whakarewarewa fans hoping for third time lucky

By Ben Guild

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Photo/Ben Fraser
Photo/Ben Fraser

The Whakarewarewa faithful, primed to be crammed into all manner of transportation for their side's away semifinal with Tauranga Sports on Saturday, are hoping history really does repeat.

The Rotorua side has travelled to Tauranga Domain for semifinals twice in recent seasons, coming away with upset wins in 2006 and 2011 to storm into premier finals and a win and a loss to Rotoiti and Te Puke respectively.

Cagey manager Brent Drabble was not keen on those historical results being made public in the build-up, preferring instead to talk up his side as the underdogs.

"We haven't beaten Tauranga this year; they're the only team we haven't beaten," Drabble said.

"Maybe this is an opportunity to turn things around."

The black-and-reds looked the better side for long periods in the first round at Tauranga Domain before being whistled off the park in the second half.

"We definitely addressed it on Tuesday," captain Doug Edwards said of the need for his side to be squeaky clean.

"There were some parts that we couldn't really control but we are going to control what we can to get that penalty count down."

Former Southland player Shane McDermott has been given the appointment for what shapes as a potential classic.

Whakarewarewa's narrow low-scoring win over Mount Maunganui in the final round of the regular season resembled trench warfare, but both teams will be hoping for a dry track come Saturday.

"There's a few bruised and battered boys after the weekend but I think the intensity and motivation is there for a semifinal," Edwards said.

"It was a fitting last round-robin game to win that one and go through.

"Everyone is on board this week, all that middle-of-the-season injury list is just starting to come right so, hopefully, we'll have everyone fit and healthy on Saturday.

"It's a do-or-die match basically, the good thing is it's a semifinal and a game that needs to be won and I think that's in our favour.

"We haven't beaten them this year but we are looking forward to it."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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