Actual results aside, everyone involved in taking a Baywide Premier rugby match to Matakana Island yesterday should be considered a winner.

Te Puna, who have a long-standing relationship with the island, opted to move yesterday's home game against Whakarewarewa there in an effort to reconnect.

Players, coaches, officials and supporters travelled by barge from Omokoroa to Matakana Island for a day that will live long in the memories of all involved.

On the field, it was Te Puna who maintained their fantastic form this season and claimed a 46-14 win.


The result largely came down to their superior fitness and depth. Whakarewarewa hung in there for the first three-quarters of the match but ran out of steam.

Te Puna coach Aidan Kuka said it was a day that nobody involved would forget.

"It really was a privilege and an honour to play on Matakana Island and we're very thankful that our whanau on Matakana accepted our request and we were treated like kings, it was a great day.

Te Puna's Te Aihe Toma makes a break against Whakarewarewa on Matakana Island. Photo / Andrew Warner
Te Puna's Te Aihe Toma makes a break against Whakarewarewa on Matakana Island. Photo / Andrew Warner

"It was good to get the win but that came secondary, it wasn't just about rugby, it was a celebration and a bit of a reconnection for a lot of our people and some of the families involved with Whaka.

"[The support] was huge. There were supporters lined up on both sidelines and the barges were very full. There were a lot of smiling faces," Kuka said.

He said he knew Whakarewarewa would "come at us" during the game and they did not disappoint.

"They were very physical and our young team just had to man up and absorb as much as they could. There were a lot of big tackles and big hit-ups. Finally the shackles came off and we were able to kick free in the last 20 minutes.

"That's sort of what we've been doing all season, kicking on in that last 20 and taking the game away. It was a really good team effort."


The win further cemented Te Puna's spot at the top of the Premier table.

"For us this year, we've played really well as a team, that's just how we're functioning. We've got good depth at the moment, we've got a development team that hasn't lost as well.

Whakarewarewa's Ihaka Horua chases the ball. Photo / Andrew Warner
Whakarewarewa's Ihaka Horua chases the ball. Photo / Andrew Warner

"During the first round there's always a few bragging rights, but when it gets to the second round, that's where the business starts. It's just about maintaining standards and consistency."

Whakarewarewa coach Boxer Smith said the day as a whole was "spectacular".

"It was a long day, but for the club and our families and supporters it was really good. The whole environment over there it was a totally different feeling, but the boys absorbed it all and gave it their best shot.

"The game was good, it sort of told us where we are and what we can work on. Te Puna are very clinical and they follow their structures really well. Their superior fitness told in the last 15 minutes, apart from that we were right in the game," Smith said.

Whakarewarewa's focus turns to a home game against Greerton next week in which they will have their eyes on sealing a spot in the top eight.

Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Premier Results

Paroa 24 v Arataki 56
Tauranga Sports 38 v Ngongotaha 14
Te Puke Sports 43 v Mount Maunganui 10
Te Puna 46 v Whakarewarewa 14
Rotoiti 24 v Rangataua 17
Greerton Marist 69 v Whakatane Marist 8

Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Premier Development Results
Paroa 29 v Arataki 24
Tauranga Sports 29 v Ngongotaha 21
Te Puke Sports 48 v Mount Maunganui 7
Te Puna 82 v Whakarewarewa 0
Rotoiti 24 v Rangataua 46
Greerton Marist win v Whakatane Marist default