Whakarewarewa have been slowly building throughout the 2019 Baywide Premier rugby season.

They started with comfortable wins over Te Teko and Ōpōtiki before losing three games straight, against Te Puna, Tauranga Sports and Greerton.

With their hopes of a top eight finish and spot in the Premier 1 championship slipping from their grasps, a win over Rangataua was crucial and they just scraped through with a two-point win.

On Saturday they went up against their old rivals Rotoiti, the only other Rotorua club in the top division, at home knowing a win would all but secure a top eight finish.


While it has been a slow start to the season, Whakarewarewa finally reached top gear as they dominated every facet of the game on their way to a comprehensive 55-7 victory.

Whakarewarewa coach Boxer Smith said it was the performance he had been waiting for.

"Everything just clicked and went our way, we've been building to this moment. I think the boys did everything you can ask for as a coach - the game plan, the shape, the structure, the fitness and everything we've been working for gave us that win."

Whakarewarewa hammered Rotoiti 55-7.

Several players switched sides in the off-season which only provided more spice in what is always a fiery affair.

One of those was halfback George Playle, who scored Whakarewarewa's opening try against his old side, while former Rotoiti captain lock Baden Wardlaw led from the front for the home side.

"We have three former Rotoiti boys and for Baden, being an ex-captain, I'd say they had a target on him and you could clearly see that but Baden just said 'let's not buy into their niggle, let's be better than that'," Smith said.

Whakarewarewa scored tries for fun during the first half, in front of their always vocal supporters, and raced to a 34-0 halftime lead. The tries were scored by Playle, flanker Slade Apo, winger Mathew Garland, fullback Te Wehi Wright and hooker Jesse Mason-Grant.

The home side did not ease up in the second half, scoring three more converted tries - first five Ryubyn Vaipo was lethal with the boot all afternoon and even touched down himself - before Rotoiti scored a consolation try at the death.

Whakarewarewa players celebrate a try against Rotoiti. Photo / Stephen Parker
Whakarewarewa players celebrate a try against Rotoiti. Photo / Stephen Parker

Smith said the win gave his side a good confidence boost moving forward.

"It's going to probably give us a bit of belief that we can perform for the 80 minutes and put points on the board. We play Rangiuru at home next week and go away and finish with the Mount.

"Rangiuru, we share the same ancestors so that's one for the boys to look forward to again. It's motivation and it's a whanau thing, they've been playing well this season too.

"Full credit to Rotoiti, they fronted up and should be proud of their efforts. They played right to the 80th minutes, down by 50 they still came up with a try and that's a positive for them."

Rotoiti coach Wayne Ormond said it was a tough day for his side who have struggled with numbers all season.

"It was an awesome day to play rugby but I didn't have the expectation we would come out and turn things over today. For us, we're just showing up every week. We're going to pull it back, we know where we are, let's get back to basics and start building.

"You have to learn [from the loss] but it's also about identifying our own issues before we can move forward. [Whakarewarewa] should be in that top four, they've got a quality team, they've got a balanced team right across one to probably 30. I'll be disappointed if they don't make it."

He said if his side don't make the top eight and are relegated to Premier 2, they will have to work hard as a collective to get back to the top.

Baywide results
Premier: Tauranga Sports 17 Te Puna 38, Rangataua 13 Greerton Marist 27, Te Teko 52 Ōpōtiki 27, Te Puke 56 Mount Maunganui 17, Whakarewarewa 55 Rotoiti 17, Rangiuru 31 Arataki 28.

Premier Development: Tauranga Sports 10 Te Puna 53, Rangataua 26 Greerton Marist 10, Te Teko 26 Ōpōtiki 12, Te Puke 29 Mount Maunganui 13, Whakarewarewa 62 Rotoiti 0, Rangiuru 7 Arataki 24.

Division 1: Murupara 22 Reporoa 15, Whakatāne Marist 12 Ngongotahā 33, Ruatoki 21 Paroa 14, Marist St Michael's 20 Waikite 24, Kahukura 35 Judea 21, Pāpāmoa 17 Poroporo 34.

Western Bay Senior Reserves: Tauranga Sports def Judea by default, Katikati 38 Matakana 21, Greerton Marist 16 Te Puna 53, Eastern Districts the bye.

Central Bay Senior Reserves: Marist St Michael's 45 Waikite 5, Eastern Pirates 34 Reporoa 15, Taupō vs Ngongotahā (result not received).

Eastern Bay Senior Reserves: Ruatoki 0 Edgecumbe 15, Matata 24 Galatea/Waiohau 24, Waimana the bye.