Brought to you by Wanganui Rugby

It was an unfortunate but timely reminder for Tasman Tanning Premier's initial table leaders that phase and execution still rule the day over speed and crash-bash.

The Grand Hotel Challenge Shield was in no danger of staying at the Ngamatapouri Hall as Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau claimed a monopoly on territory and quality possession to be scoring at a point-per-minute following halftime up in the Waitotara Valley on Saturday.

A shellshocked Settler's Honey Ngamatapouri got to play some of their expansive style in the final quarter when the visitors ran on their bench players but, even then, the hosts made too many handling errors in the 69-12 hammering.


Kaierau's brains trust of fullback Ethan Robinson, alternating into the first-line on attack, and veteran Ace Malo ran the game how they saw fit – with pinpoint right-to-left kicks into the corners moving their big Fijian opposition around, and then outstanding offloads at pace, with winger Karl Pascoe a primary beneficiary with superb finishing for a hat-trick.

In reply, Ngamatapouri looked like a team trying to implement the structure new coach Danny Tamehana wants, but their kicking game consisted of aimless high balls up the centre of the pitch, gifting possession back to the Shield holders.

Kaierau's loose forward group of Cade Robinson, Woody Martin, Joe Edwards and replacement Dylan Bowater relished the up-tempo style with some strong carries and very good turnovers.

In the end, Ngamatapouri had to revert to type by attacking from deep in their half, after Kaierau subbed off their leading lights with some little concern for Ethan Robinson's sternum and Edwards' head.

Even without momentum, big Jim Seruwalu can still generate something from nothing, as he did on multiple busts through the middle of the park and a great angled run for the home side's first try.

Winger Moses Tamata also did well to ground the ball in the corner, while Samu Kubunavanua covered everywhere from flanker to fullback.

Yet, even with Malo and Robinson off the pitch, others stepped up for Kaierau as halfback Cameron Davies was deadly when attacking open spaces off the ruck, while centre Dillon Adrole and replacement winger CJ Stowers ran the outside defenders ragged.

While some of Kaierau's structure went away at the back end of the match, coach Carl Gibson was delighted with the first 50 minutes, when a half-century was raised.


"We want to play an expansive game and it takes fitness and it takes a full squad to do that, and they gave everything I asked right from the start.

"To move the ball around, you're going to move [big] bodies like that, and it just wore them down.

"We've got leaders in this team now, they're really important and they're stepping up."

Ngamatapouri still put on the big hits when they could, and with Kaierau's injured Shandon Scott and Kohlt Coveny already watching from the sideline, Gibson took the chance to substitute key players early to keep them in cotton wool.

"We want to play a physical game, too, and that's just part of it.

"We've got a big squad and we need a big squad – got to have them all up to the [Premier] ability and someone's got to step up because it's intense. It's only 10 weeks."


Ngamatapouri manager Gerald Pearce said they simply got outplayed by a well-balanced team.

"First half, we just kicked it to them and they capitalised on what we shouldn't have given them.

"Halftime, we were that far behind the boys did well to get a couple of tries. The game was all over.

"The territory and hanging onto the ball, you can't win without the ball. Kicked it away."

Ngamatapouri's Fijians are known for their confidence with ball in hand, but even that seemed to desert them as handling errors in their 22m led to two of Kaierau's late tries.

"Even when Samu come down there, all he had to do was pop that pass and we were in, but it didn't happen that way," said Pearce.


"Toss of the coin never went our way."