Hastings East justified their favourites' tag when the Wakely Shield rugby tournament began in Taradale today.
Bay Power Engineering Hastings East beat New Zealand Home Loans Napier East 38-19 after leading 19-10 at halftime in the first match of the 16th edition of the annual under-50kg event which is played at Tareha Recreation Reserve to honour Taradale matriarch Adele Wakely's 50-plus years contribution to the code.
Hastings East head coach and former Magpies midfield back Sam Giddens was quick to point out that while he was happy with the final result it was a patchy performance from his troops.
"We started well and then went off the boil. It was the same in the second half when we had a strong third quarter but were guilty of easing back during the final quarter."
It was appropriate second five-eighth Panapa Lambert should shine with his carries for Hastings East. In Giddens he has the ideal mentor for his position.
It was also fitting that flanker Troy Kronfeld should have a strong game for the winners. The player-of-the-tournament receives the Josh Kronfield Medal which is named after the Hawke's Bay-raised former All Blacks loosie.
Busy No 8 Harvey O'Rourke was another to impress for Hastings East. Lambert, O'Rourke, Finn Molloy, Tom Cassidy, Cassius Marsh and Austin McDougall scored tries for Hastings East and William Lovatt kicked four conversions.
Prop Tyrese Nikola and lock Kingsley Morris were workaholics in the Napier East pack.
Centre Cory Peterson and winger Malakai Lyford made the most of their opportunities in the Napier East backline. Nikola, Lyford and fullback Tommy Hay-Mckenzie scored Napier East's tries and winger Jack Bowen kicked two conversions.
Quality impact from No 8 Victory Voice off the subs bench was a highlight of Kleer Contractors Hastings West's 24-3 win against Centralines Central. Voice scored two tries and was the kingpin in a cohesive effort from the Hastings West pack in the second spell.
Charlie Schaw, who had stints at halfback and on the wing, was the pick of the Hastings West backs. Centre Mitchell Townsend and winger Reid Palmer scored Hastings West's other tries and Schaw kicked two conversions.
Central coach Josh Pere was thrilled with his team's first half as they trailed 10-3 at halftime.
"Our first half was pretty good but Hastings dominated the second half. Our scrummaging was good but there was a wind shift which we didn't adjust to," Pere said.
Fullback George Peacock kicked a penalty for Central. Captain Te Awarangi Puketapu-Pene had some classy touches at first five-eighth and vice-captain and No 8 Tamati Pere led his pack by example.
Solenis NZ Napier West proved they have the ammunition to push Hastings East with their 48-5 victory over Efficient Moving & Storage Saracens. Napier West led 31-5 at halftime but head coach Levi Armstrong wasn't getting too carried away.
"It was a good first hit out. It took us a while to get going and for players to get used to our systems. We also made sure we gave everyone a run," Armstrong said.
Captain Fred Lougeson, fellow flanker Adam Florens and lock Jack Parker were inspirational in the Napier West pack. First five-eighth Joseph Jury-Senitu controlled the tempo well and wingers Tane Repia and Jordyn Armstrong were enterprising.
Repia and Jury-Senitu scored two tries each. Parker, Florens, No 8 Hale Joblin and winger Jett O'Brien scored one each. Jury-Senitu kicked three conversions and Lougeson one.
Flanker Liam Reid scored Saracens try and shone with his never-say-die approach. Fullback Tyler Adlam was the best of the Saracens backs.