The Hawke's Bay Saracens rugby side got what head coach Mutu Ngarimu described as a timely wake-up call today.
After beating the Horowhenua Heartland side 64-7 and the King Country Heartland team 90-12 in their previous outings the Saracens were beaten 38-17 by the Whanganui Heartland side at Napier's Park Island. Whanganui led 19-5 at halftime.
"Collectively we didn't give Whanganui the respect they deserved. We spoke about what they would bring and what we could bring and what we could control but it didn't happen which was disappointing," Ngarimu said.
"That loss showed the different levels which exist within the Heartland Championship and Whanganui were quite impressive," he added.
Halfback Trent Hape and substitute backs Jesse Paewai and Tyrone Dodd-Edwards scored the Saracens tries. First five-eighth Kodie Drury-Hawkins kicked a conversion.
Paewai provided quality impact at second five-eighth and Drury-Hawkins had some neat touches. Busy No 8 Damien Scott and veteran prop Terry Marsh were the best of the Saracens forwards.
On the adjacent field at Park Island the Hawke's Bay under-19s opened their season with a 35-7 victory against the Whanganui Development team. Hooker Miracle Lolofie, locks Sean Baker and Tiaki Fabish and openside flanker Josh Gimblett were all prominent in the winning pack.
Centre Gideon Kautai and substitute inside back Ben Kelt operated well in the Bay backline. Kelt, substitute outside back Vince Onesi, Lolofie, Baker and captain and blindside flanker Damarus Hokianga all scored tries for the hosts who led 21-7 at halftime.
The Hawke's Bay Tui opened their pre-season campaign with a 40-35 win against their Manawatu counterparts in atrocious conditions in Palmerston North. The match was played in five 20-minute periods and Te Maari MacGregor played all 100 minutes having stints in the centre, second five-eighth and first five-eighth positions.
MacGregor impressed with her tactical play. Teani Feleu was thirsty for work in both the wing and centre positions and Cortez Te Pou was enterprising in both the wing and fullback positions.
Hawke's Bay's tight five functioned well and loosehead prop Whitley Mareikura was inspirational during her 60 minutes of action. Mareikura, Te Pou, Felicity Powdrell, Rebekah Hurae, Te Aroha Hunt and Michaela Baker scored tries for the visitors.
Sylvia Bockman kicked three conversions and MacGregor and Emma Jensen one each.