It was a classic game of two halves.
Otamatea turned the game around.
Season’s second win for Otamatea.
Tomarata RFC hosted the Otamatea Hawks of the first clash between the clubs for the season last month in the Northland Rugby south zone competition.
Tomarata took an early lead with a try just five minutes into the game. Soon after, an impressive break through Otamatea’s line saw Tomarata’s Danyon Tana take another try.
Then Otamatea took its first try of the match by pushing a scrum over the goal line.
But then Tomarata earned a penalty kick right before half time to secure a 13-5 lead.
After a team talk, Otamatea returned to the field with renewed concentration. The ball was kicked by backs on both teams from one end of the field to the other at least five times in a tussle to shift momentum.
Otamatea took it’s time, and after a long push scored the first try of the half, setting the scene for a turnaround.
The team gained confidence and pushed yet another try over the line during a scrum. It followed up with the first successful conversion of the day.
Otamatea was able to take a penalty kick and a final quarter try for a final score of 25-13 to Otamatea.
Tomarata coach Phillip Tana acknowledged that in the first half there was even possession, but in the second half Otamatea was in control.
He said there were good long gaps between tries, thanks to a well-matched defence.
“A lot of the boys between the teams know each other. There’s a close mateship and rivalry between the teams. We defended it with heart, but in the end it got away.”
Otamatea coach Mike Peeni said his side were more patient and produced a better result.
Now four matches into the competition, he said his team had begun its training in earnest, and was looking forward to the rest of the season.
He said the senior team had been busy reshaping after winning the south zone championship last season, which had seen some players move on.
“For us it’s mostly about keeping the game going so that juniors have a pathway into senior rugby.”
Both clubs have strong junior programmes. Otamatea has 60 players across its under nines and under 11s teams, sourcing players from Kaiwaka, Maungaturoto and Paparoa.
Tomarata RFC is putting the call out for junior players for its programme, which begins the first week of the second school term.
“Our recruitment strategy has been to go in to Tomarata School and Mangawhai School and hold have-a-go days. But anyone who wants to jump on board can,” Tana says.
He says a lot of players have recently transitioned from Tomarata’s junior programme into Rodney College. Last year, the college had an under 14s team for the first time, and this year it will also have an under 16s team for the first time.
“The priority is that players are enjoying the game, and then it’s about developing their skills and making them feel that they are part of a club family.”
The junior programme contact is Michelle at email@example.com.
Tomarata RFC and Otamatea Hawks will next meet in Kaiwaka on Saturday, June 12.