Wed, 26 Apr 2017
This weekend’s Counties Power Game of the Week between Papakura Ray White and Te Kauwhata EnviroWaste will be as fierce as any contest this season.
The two sides hold the bottom two places on the championship standings and are yet to record a win this season but don’t let that fool you. Both teams have challenged some of the more fancied sides this year for large periods but haven’t quite been able to hold on for a win.
Papakura led Onewhero last week at halftime but weren’t able to repeat their first half effort while Te Kauwhata was in a position to beat second-placed Patumahoe early in the season but came up just short.
“At the end of that game a lot of our guys were smiling and all happy,” coach Stephen Hickey says. “I didn’t give them a tune up but I just said that it is good to be happy but I pointed out that they could have actually won that game. That is the big learning curve we are going through.”
While both sides have come close to winning this will be the first opportunity to go into the game expecting a result. However Hickey hasn’t been looking ahead to this match-up as being anything different.
“To be honest we haven’t even talked about Papakura. It is my first year in the coaching role and it is the old cliché – we have been looking at it one game at the time.
“I suppose Papakura is one that is definitely in our range but we haven’t specifically targeted it.
“They will be in exactly the same boat as us. I can see it being a really close game. We are probably outside of our comfort zones in that it is a game both sides can win.
“It will be a day of who takes their chances and plays within their capabilities.”
Papakura coach Gavin Giles on the other hand has had this game in his mind for a while as a game his side can get a morale-boosting win.
“We have been targeting a few games but this is a definite one for us,” the former Counties lock says.
“I expect them to be a bit like us – be in the game until half time – so if we don’t get on top of them early they are going to keep hounding us.”
Both sides are dealing with depleted rosters as we approach the midway point of the season.
“We are battling for a front row and we have really been struggling at set piece because we are light there,” Hickey says.
“We have got a couple of front rowers that are coming that will hopefully bolster us.”
Papakura will be missing standout halfback Shirley Halasima as well as a few other players who are struggling with injury.
Giles says their health is far from ideal at present.
“Not good. Our halfback, who is in the Counties B set-up, broke his arm five minutes into the second half last week.
“It is that time of the year where you are battling a few injuries.”