Lock Mataira shows he can handle next step
Clive lock Donovan Mataira is doing the business week in and week out on the Hawke’s Bay club rugby scene and today he proved he is ready for regular representative play.
The 19-year-old, who is top of the leaderboard in the province’s MVP club award after 13 weeks, was powerful on the carry, accurate at lineout time and composed on defence in the Magpies’ 42-17 pre-season win against Wairarapa Bush at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park in Hastings. Although to be fair he didn’t have too much defensive work to do as the Magpies dominated the first half and led 28-0 at halftime in ideal conditions and in front of a crowd of 540.
It was the same level of intensity as the Tasman game but definitely a step up from club play,” Mataira said referring to the Magpies’ 31-24 win against the Tasman Mako in Wellington last month.
“There’s still work for me to do around the small stuff at lineout time. But I was happy with how our new combinations went today and the chemistry we developed as we went along. Hopefully I get another crack against Manawatu,” Mataira said, promoting the Magpies’ next pre-season outing against Manawatu at Napier’s McLean Park on July 3.
His combination with hooker Jack Nelson-Murray and his lifters was top shelf at lineout time. While this season could be a little early for a full Magpies Mitre 10 Cup contract for Mataira he should be a definite for the Hawke’s Bay Saracens team and on call for the Magpies’ first class campaign should injuries hit the locks ranked ahead of him.
Mataira had been subbed off when the Magpies’ defensive systems became too soft for head coach Mark Ozich’s liking in the second half.
“This game was all about growing and developing our young guys. We wanted to see who can and who can’t step up at this level and for some it was a reality check. While there were moments of good stuff we were striving for a result which wasn’t there,” Ozich said.
“This was only a marginal step up from club play and our skill level under pressure wasn’t good enough. That was an underwhelming back end of the second half. I want to see an appreciation of the fundamentals before the flash stuff as we build towards the Manawatu game,” Ozich added.
His lads defended well until the 56th minute when Wairarapa Bush scored their first try which was deserved. However the Magpies should not have leaked the tries they did in the 69th and 78th minutes and they almost conceded another seconds before the fulltime whistle.
Along with Mataira, loosehead prop Pouri Rakete-Stones and blindside flanker Eru Wano were the pick of the Magpies starting forwards. Halfback Zac Donaldson was lively and centre Antonio Mikaele-Tu’u worked hard for his two tries.
Prop Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe did some good work off the Magpies subs bench in the second half. Captain and blindside flanker James Goodger, second five-eighth Brock Price, who scored two tries, centre Robbie Anderson, fullback Inia Katia and winger Logan Prendevile-Heberton were the best of the Wairarapa Bush starters. Substitute No 8 Joe Tako impressed with his impact in the second half.
Wairarapa Bush head coach Joe Harwood had every right to be proud of his troops’ second half effort.
“There was a bit more urgency and go forward. Our lineout was good throughout the match and we tidied up our breakdown work in the second half. There were plenty of positives for us,” Harwood said.
The visitors displayed vast improvement on the 57-14 and 40-7 defeats in the respective 2018 and 2017 encounters.
Hawke’s Bay Magpies 42 (Antonio Mikaele-Tu’u 2, Iakopo Mapu, Anzelo Tuitavuki, Tyrone Dodd-Edwards, Timo Vaiusu tries; Kodie Drury-Hawkins 4, Lincoln McClutchie 2 cons)
Wairarapa Bush 17 (Brock Price 2, Robbie Anderson tries; Anderson con)
By: Shane Hurndell
Shane Hurndell is a sports reporter for Hawke’s Bay Today