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Ranfurly Shield: Stags go down but prove worthy opponents

Magpies second five-eighth Billy Ropiha unloads to winger Shannan Chase who scored his team's third try. Photo / Paul Taylor
Magpies second five-eighth Billy Ropiha unloads to winger Shannan Chase who scored his team’s third try. Photo / Paul Taylor

Pivot depth … the Hawke’s Bay Magpies rugby team will have plenty in 2015.

Should anything happen injury-wise to the Super Rugby pair of Ihaia West and Andrew Horrell during the ITM Cup, Magpies head coach Craig Philpott and his assistant Danny Lee will be able to slip the collar off Tyrone Elkington-MacDonald without any anxiety. Elkington-MacDonald nudged lock Trent Boswell-Wakefield close for player-of-the-match honours as the Magpies retained the Ranfurly Shield in yesterday’s 58-7 victory against Wairarapa Bush at Napier’s McLean Park.

Composed with his option tacking, Elkington-MacDonald, celebrated his first-class debut with a 21-point haul which included a try and five conversions and two penalties from as many attempts at goal during 60 minutes of action in challenging conditions.

“I was pretty pleased with that display. Hopefully I will get some more game time at this level … the knee was fine too,” Elkington-MacDonald said referring to an old knee injury which saw him appear in just four club games for Napier Old Boys Marist this season before yesterday’s match.

“Considering the conditions, I was happy with the goalkicking. There was one in the first half which I didn’t think had the legs.

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“There were plenty of boos from the Bush supporters as I lined them up but the cheers drowned those out as the kicks went over,” he added.

Taking the conditions into account and the fact 12 of the Magpies, including eight in the starting XV, were making their first-class debuts, it was a commendable display from the hosts. Close to a 7/10 in fact.

The only major work-on before next week’s defence against Horowhenua-Kapiti will be reducing the turnovers count. Yesterday there were 12 in the first half and nine in the second.

The majority of these were soft and often came when passes were being attempted when they shouldn’t have been. As expected the Magpies forwards dominated set-piece play and deserved their two tightheads at scrum time and couple of wins against the throw at lineout time.

Mark Braidwood. McLean Park in Napier. Hawkes Bay Magpies v Wairarapa Bush. Ranfurly shield defence, ahead of the new ITM Cup rugby season. July 9th 2015
Mark Braidwood. McLean Park in Napier. Hawkes Bay Magpies v Wairarapa Bush. Ranfurly shield defence, ahead of the new ITM Cup rugby season. July 9th 2015

Like the Hawke’s Bay Saracens win against the Manawatu Evergreens in Waipukurau last month, this match proved the Hawke’s Bay Saracens team, to be named after the ITM Cup squad next month, will have plenty of depth.

Prop Jarvy Aoake, another on debut, again enhanced his reputation and scored the first of the Magpies’ eight tries. His NOBM clubmate and another on debut, Joseph Penitito, was impressive on the charge but needs to improve his ball security when taking it into the confrontation area.

The exciting Bay backs, who scored six of the hosts eight tries, confirmed what we already knew … there will be no shortage of depth anywhere in the backline for the shield holders this season. None of the backs did anything to suggest they didn’t deserve a berth in the ITM Cup squad, and this should be the case against opponents like yesterday’s.

Prop injury worries Philpott before next game

Hawke’s Bay Magpies prop Tolu Fahamokioa was taken to hospital with a suspected fractured foot after yesterday’s match against Wairarapa Bush.

The Hurricanes player left the field 14 minutes into his Magpies debut.

He was Magpies head coach Craig Philpott’s only injury concern.

Philpott agreed reducing his troops’ turnover count will be the biggest work on before Thursday’s Ranfurly Shield defence against Horowhenua-Kapiti at McLean Park. Twenty-one turnovers, the majority of them soft, were conceded in the match.

“We spoke at halftime about personal responsibility for the ball at the contact area and things did improve in the second half,” Philpott said.

Wairarapa Bush coach Josh Syms had every right to be proud of the manner in which his Heartland Championship outfit stayed in the fight against last year’s ITM Cup Championship runners-up.

“It’s better than 97-3 as it has been in previous challenges. We’re hoping to improve on our second-to-last placing in the Heartland this year and if we build on today’s display we will have a good chance,” Syms said.

“We struggled with the physicality at set piece time but worked hard on defence, particularly the inside channel. We made the Magpies work hard for their money,” he added.

Captain and first five-eighth Tim Priest and winger Ryan Saunders were full of adventure in the visiting backline, while No 8 Johnie McFadzean, one of three brothers in the Bush side, toiled tirelessly.

A feature of the game, which attracted 4,543 fans, was the superb display by Bay of Plenty referee Jamie Nutbrown.

The former Chiefs and Crusaders halfback played plenty of advantage and didn’t award a penalty until the 15th minute.

Match highlights

Heartstopper: Magpies winger Mason Emerson’s failure to clear the ball or force it before Wairarapa Bush flanker Brock Price scored the visitors’ only try in the 31st minute. Apart from this, Emerson can be proud of his first-class debut for the hosts.

Turning point: The first try by Magpies fullback Zac Guildford in the 19th minute. Pivot Tyrone Elkington-MacDonald converted and the shieldholders led 17-0 despite playing into the strong wind. The Bush were never going to come back and cause an upset from here.

Player of the match: Magpies lock Trent Boswell-Wakefield. Stole a couple of the visitors’ lineout throws, full of authority in confrontation and extremely mobile. Ideal way to celebrate his 50th first-class game for the Bay.


Hawke’s Bay 58 (Zac Guildford 2, Jarvy Aoake, Tyrone Elkington-MacDonald, Shannan Chase, Billy Ropiha, Jonah Lowe, Brendon O’Connor tries; Elkington-MacDonald 5, Ihaia West cons; Elkington-MacDonald 2 pens)

Wairarapa-Bush 7 (Brock Price try; Tim Priest con)

HT: 17-7

By Shane Hurndell – Hawkes Bay Today