HB reps rugby

First five-eighth Johnny Lauano received the biggest pat on the back after the Hawke's Bay Samoans rugby team won the Central Region High Commission Cup final in Palmerston North on Saturday.

"The whole team played well but Johnny's directional play in the second half was superb. We went away from our structure a bit in the first half and got sucked into their game but Johnny got us playing our expansive game again," Hawke's Bay coach Tivaini Fomai said after his team's 54-22 win against the Marton-based Whanganui Samoans.

Lauano, his brother and winger Migao Lauano and substitute loosie Joseph Penitito are all Napier Old Boys Marist premier players and finished the season as Nash Cup, Maddison Trophy and High Commission Cup winners.

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While Whanganui's physicality levels kept them in the hunt for the first 60 minutes the Hawke's Bay players' superior fitness saw them dominate the final quarter. Coach Fomai impressed with the timing of his substitutions with the likes of Penitito, prop Dennis Tapusoa and centre Neria Fomai all shining with their impact.

"I understand there is going to be a review of the competition. But we will be back next year with the aim of retaining the cup. We've got a couple of players who are 33 or 34 but still have a couple of years left in them and we also have youngsters coming out of the under-19s who will be handy if they don't make the Saracens ... we're looking good for the future," coach Fomai said.

Dannevirke No 8 Tawera Rautahi produced a player-of-the-match performance for the Hawke's Bay Ross Shield team during a 37-20 win against the Hawke's Bay Barbarians under-13 team on Saturday. This was one of two curtainraisers to the Magpies game at Napier's McLean Park.

Hastings East prop Aone Lolofie and Napier lock Mathew Vaimoli were others to impress in the Ross Shield team pack. Napier's Afa Moleli was the best of the backs and played fullback.

Moleli is still producing the form which saw him win the Taupo Trophy for Player of the Tournament at the Ross Shield tourney in Dannevirke. The Ross Shield team's superior fitness was evident during the final quarter.

Winger Tomasi Naicegulevu, who scored two tries, and captain and halfback Moana Ropitini were the pick of the Barbarians backs. Busy No 8 Francis Taurima was the best of the forwards.

The Barbarians team was run by members of the Barbarians senior team which toured the United States earlier this year. They are keen to assist the Hawke's Bay union with the development of Hawke's Bay age group rugby and hope to get a Hawke's Bay Secondary Schools boys team up and running again in the future.

The other McLean Park curtainraiser saw Manawatu's Mana in Education team beat HB Role Models in Education 24-12.

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