Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby team's head coach Mark Ozich has got some early-season headaches of the right kind.
They were caused by members of his Wider Training Group who produced a 35-7 win against the Auckland Contenders at Napier's Park Island today. Just 10 members of last year's Magpies Mitre 10 Cup squad were in the team.
"You played with the right levels of purpose and intent and it was good to watch," Ozich told the squad afterwards.
"The standard you guys played to means we've got some good headaches now."
Considering how early in the season it is the hosts cohesion and support play on attack and accuracy on defence was top shelf. Their set piece play functioned well.
"The desire was there. Everyone wanted it and the result speaks for itself," lock and captain for the day, Elijah Martin, said.
"We've only been together for four trainings. It's a very young group ... I'm the third oldest at 25," Martin explained.
A member of last year's Cup squad, Martin, didn't receive any first class action.
"That's the aim this year. I've put on eight kilograms and am now 106 so that will help. I still have to work on my fitness which is why I got most of the minutes today. I'm still learning heaps too," Martin added.
With their forwards so dominant the Hawke's Bay backs had plenty of opportunities. New Taradale second five-eighth Hemaua Samasoni made the most of his opportunities.
Havelock North winger Anzelo Tuitavuki was dangerous on attack and lethal on defence. Some of his teammates joked Tuitavuki's new haircut was responsible for his improved play on last year.
Tuitavuki produced a try-saving tackle on Auckland second five-eighth Maake Taulahi in the first quarter. One of Tuitavuki's breaks led to busy flanker Iakopo Mapu's second try.
Chiefs first five-eighth Tiaan Falcon made some classy breaks after taking the field as a second half replacement. All Black Sevens squad member Ollie Sapsford was full of authority in the midfield.
Locks Tiaki Fabish and Josh Gimblett, who are in their second year out of Napier Boys' High School, displayed the tremendous depth the Bay has in this position. Winger Joeli Rauca and midfielder Jordan Thompson-Dunn, who were in the Hastings Boys' High School first XV last year, were thirsty for work as second half replacements.
Lock Damien Scott scored the try of the match after substitute hooker Jacob Devery sold a dummy and made a clever break before sending Scott over.
Hawke's Bay Magpies 35 (Iakopo Mapu 2, Hemaua Samasoni, Damien Scott, Albert Hemopo tries; Tiaan Falcon 4, Tianua Poto cons), Auckland Contenders 7 (Kurt Heatherley try; Joe Collins con). HT: 7-0.