League: Tanking allegation could cost Pirates their playoff place

By Steve Deane

Point Chevalier Pirates face possible expulsion from the Fox Memorial playoffs. Photo / Greg Bowker
Point Chevalier Pirates face possible expulsion from the Fox Memorial playoffs. Photo / Greg Bowker

Point Chevalier Pirates face possible expulsion from the Fox Memorial playoffs after being accused of tanking their final regular season match.

Pt Chev lost to Marist Saints 102-0 - setting up a finals rematch between the clubs at the expense of Papakura Sea Eagles, who were eliminated on points differential.

Pt Chev won the previous meeting between the clubs 48-16.

The Auckland Rugby League charged Pt Chev with bringing the game into disrepute for fielding a side consisting largely of third-team players.

The Pirates had made a deliberate attempt to influence whom they would face in their first finals match and had breached ARL rules by "failing to participate in a professional manner", an ARL release said.

A hearing has been scheduled for tonight, with a three-man panel chaired by retired judge Trevor Maxwell to determine the Pirates' fate.

ARL chairman Cameron McGregor confirmed expulsion from the finals was one option.

Pirates coach Grant Pocklington admitted fielding a weakened side but strongly denied attempting to manipulate the playoff schedule.

"What happened to Papakura was the result of our decision, it wasn't the reason for our decision," Pocklington said.

"Obviously Papakura are going to be pissed off, but if we were in cahoots and trying to designate a score, we wouldn't let 100 be put on us."

The club had seven injured players, three away for personal reasons and had rested the remainder ahead of the finals, Pocklington said.

Having beaten Otahuhu the week before to secure third place, there was nothing riding on the match for Pt Chev. The club could not use players from their reserve team as that team still had a chance of making thefinals.

Having been transformed from a lower division club on the brink of extinction to a genuine Fox contender under the guidance of former Warriors legends Stacey Jones and Awen Guttenbeil, Pt Chev have been the feelgood story of Auckland club league in recent times.

Guttenbeil is no longer associated with the club, while Jones relinquished the coaching reins this season to take up a position with the ARL.

Jones was granted dispensation to remain as the club's technical adviser, however he was away attending a funeral at the weekend and had nothing to do with selecting the Pt Chev team that took the field on Saturday.

"I guess it's not a good look," Jones said. "But I can see the reasoning behind the coach wanting to rest his players. We couldn't go any higher or lower."

Papakura chairman Bill McEntee said a rumour Pt Chev would field their third team began circulating last Thursday.

"I thought, 'Jeez, they won't stoop that bloody low because that is a low blow.'

"And they did. If they were beaten fair and square then you've got no problem," McEntee said.

"But all year we've played the Fox and then they do this to manipulate the competition to their own needs.

"We'd beaten them soundly twice. They couldn't handle us, they wanted to play Marist and so they manipulated it.

"It's really against the spirit of the game as far as I am concerned. It's left a really bad taste in our mouths. When I heard about it I was disgusted."

* Carlos Tuimavave will be the third Warriors debutant in the past four weeks when he takes the field against the Sharks on Sunday.

A key figure in the club's Toyota Cup successes in 2010 and 2011, the 20-year-old five-eighth has been named on the bench for the must-win match.

Warriors team: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry, Lewis Brown, Manu Vatuvei (c), James Maloney, Shaun Johnson, Russell Packer, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Elijah Taylor, Sebastine Ikahihifo.
Interchange: Carlos Tuimavave, Sione Lousi, Jacob Lillyman, Steve Rapira, Ukuma Ta'ai.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 31 Oct 2014 06:08:24 Processing Time: 414ms